HELSINKI (Reuters) – Finland’s government said on Thursday it would ease its restrictions on opening hours for restaurants serving mainly food but kept stricter rules on bars and nightclubs in place, as the COVID-19 pandemic showed signs of slowing down in the Nordic country.
“Thanks to people’s responsible behaviour and the measures we have taken, Finland’s situation has been one of the best in Europe,” Krista Kiuru, the minister in charge of Finland’s coronavirus response, told reporters.
The new rules, which will take effect on Sunday, will allow restaurants serving mainly food to stay open as they wish, except for regions with the most virus cases, while bars and nightclubs will have to stop alcohol sales at 10 p.m.
Earlier on Thursday, Finnish health authorities said the earlier rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases had levelled off and the numbers even seemed to be decreasing slightly.
Finland’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants stood at 48.5 on Thursday, the lowest figure in Europe together with Estonia.
“Finns abide with instructions and recommendations in their majority,” Mika Salminen, head of health security at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, told reporters in explaining why Finland had succeeded in curbing the disease.
Altogether 2.5 million out of the country’s 5.5-million population have downloaded the government’s contact tracing mobile application, Salminen added.
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alison Williams and Jonathan Oatis)