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Finland orders bars, restaurants to shut at 1 a.m. to help contain COVID

FILE PHOTO: People enjoy warm summer evening, following eased lockdown measures amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Helsinki, Finland on July 17, 2020. Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland’s government on Tuesday ordered all bars and restaurants to close at 1 a.m. and to stop alcohol sales at midnight starting Oct. 8 to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

“The information provided by authorities is alarming...The number of infections is rising rapidly,” Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru told reporters in explaining the decision.

Kiuru added that local authorities would have the right to order restaurants and bars to end alcohol sales earlier, at 10 p.m., and to close their doors at 11 p.m. wherever the coronavirus was spreading most rapidly.

Finland’s COVID-19 numbers have remained among the lowest in Europe for months but its public health authority said 149 new coronavirus cases had been reported on Tuesday, among the highest daily numbers for several months.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, Finland has recorded 345 deaths and 9,892 cases of COVID-19 - 1,016 of them in the latest two weeks ending Sept. 26.

“The share of positive test results has risen to one percent and in some regions even above,” Kiuru said.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen, Editing by Mark Heinrich

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