HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland will restrict restaurants’ opening hours to curb rising COVID-19 infections and the spread of the new Omicron variant, the government said on Wednesday.
Starting on Christmas eve, bars will have to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close at 10 p.m. From Dec. 28 onwards, alcohol can only be served until 5 p.m. and bars need to close by 6 p.m. and restaurants by 8 p.m., the government said in a statement.
Bars are also allowed to take in only 50% of maximum customer capacity and restaurants 75%, it added.
The government also decided university and other adult students would shift to remote schooling after the Christmas holidays and foreign travellers coming to Finland would need a proof of vaccination or recovery from COVID-19 and a recent negative test result.
Finland has so far allowed restaurants and events to sidestep COVID-19 restrictions based on certification showing proof of vaccination, recovery from COVID-19 or a recent negative test.
The government has also proposed that COVID-19 certification would be required from healthcare professionals working with people at risk of severe illness due to weakened immunity, and that home test kits would be exempted from value added tax to make them more affordable.
While Finland remains among the countries least affected by the pandemic, its infection rate has been on the rise in recent weeks.
Last week, the Nordic nation of 5.5 million people recorded approximately 13,400 new cases compared to a week earlier when the figure stood at 10,600, according to statistics by the Finnish Health Institute. About 83.3% of its people aged 12 and over have now received two vaccine doses.
(Reporting by Essi Lehto; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)