HS analysis Government restaurant restrictions once again sparked an avalanche of criticism – Why is it so difficult to make equitable restriction decisions?

Government a working group of ministers on coronation decided on Thursday to ease restrictions. The decisions provoked a furious avalanche of criticism.

With regard to events, the Corona Group recommended that the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM) issue a letter of instruction to the regional government agencies (Avit) stating that, for example, hobby and cultural events can be opened quite widely.

The Department of Health and Welfare (THL) would have been stricter in terms of events. In its view, the number of participants should be limited to half of the maximum number allowed.

There will be no such restriction in the cover letter. The new restrictions on avien made on Friday were made before the letter of direction.

Avis don’t have to obey letters of instruction, they make decisions independently.

Event– and in the cultural sector, many believe that there are no longer even legal grounds for restricting opportunities and that there is little need for restrictions.

However, an even louder cry came from the restaurant decisions in the hands of the government.

From 1 February, restaurants may be open until 21:00. Alcohol may be sold at eight in the evening. Bars and pubs that focus on serving alcohol should close their doors at 6pm and stop serving alcohol at 5pm.

According to HS, STM proposed an even stricter restriction on the corona group, so that the restaurants should have closed at 20 o’clock.

Read more: Government eases restrictions on food restaurants, cultural and sports facilities are also recommended

THL gave as early as the beginning of the week, the government stated that the opening hours of low-risk catering establishments, ie in practice food restaurants, could be extended in areas with rising hospital care to, for example, nine o’clock and in areas with declining hospital care until midnight.

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On Thursday, the THL issued a supplementary statement to the Corona Group, in which the agency no longer recommended exact opening hours.

“It is not objectively possible to assess the timing of a restriction on the basis of epidemiological criteria other than at a very general level. The shorter the adult population has contacts that may be exposed to the infection, the fewer infections are expected to occur. It is not possible for the plant to estimate the optimal time, ”said THL.

On the board there is both a desire and a strong pressure to open restrictions as much as possible.

According to government sources, ministers would probably have opened the restaurants properly if STM and THL had suggested so.

Government sources say it would be no wonder if the extension of restaurant opening hours is decided again next week, if the situation in hospitals continues to calm down.

Finland the strict restaurant line is due to the fact that STM justifies its restriction proposal quite strictly, i.e. only according to the situation of the hospitals.

STM also fears that if the number of people’s contacts is increased too much and too early at once, the restrictions will soon have to be tightened again.

However, no one can predict with certainty what will happen in the end.

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STM is playing surely when it tries to keep corona deaths to a minimum, where it has succeeded well and in the past with the most moderate restrictions in many European countries. At that time, however, people’s livelihoods and mental well-being tend to be sidelined in decisions.

The rage of the people is understandable in that respect, because now Finland’s restrictions are exceptionally the strictest in Europe.

For politicians there is a big risk of doing contrary to what the authorities or ministry officials say, because if the number of bodies increases, the politicians are to blame.

Admittedly, they are still accused now and with even greater certainty if the restrictions are not lifted. In the current situation, it is politically outright masochistic for the government to continue to impose restrictions.

The government was already considering in the autumn and to some extent at the turn of the year that it might make sense for restaurant restrictions to be transferred from the government to be decided by the authorities.

Last fall, even the STM supported such a decision, but reportedly at least the prime minister Sanna Marin (sd) opposed the transfer. Mara, an interest group representing restaurants and hotels, also cracked down.

Mara saw that Avit may be too unpredictable, and they don’t take into account factors other than the hospital and health situation, even to the extent the government does.

In autumn the transfer was not made, mainly because Marin and part of the government feared that Avit would not react quickly enough to the changes.

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The decision was influenced by the situation in late summer, where the government wanted to open cultural events, but Avit did not do so as quickly as the government wanted.

The government has not made a decision on the matter, but according to government sources, a possible majority of the government could already be leaning in favor of postponing restaurant decisions.

Size during the corona crisis, one key problem has been that restrictions have been uneven across groups. This is due in particular to the fact that decisions on restaurants have been made by the government and in other respects by the municipalities and Avit.

The good side of the move would be that Avit could reduce or increase contacts in a coordinated manner across different domains.

If you want to limit contacts by, say, 20%, one decision-maker could probably target it more evenly in different domains than two decision-makers. However, it is always difficult to accurately assess the effectiveness of restrictive measures.

On the board the left-wing parties and the Greens want to make sure that events are opened in the same way as restaurants.

It easily follows that the government is not afraid to open restaurants any further until Avit has made decisions to open hobby and theaters as well. Or vice versa.

The system of two decision-makers can drift to the extreme that some functions cannot be opened at all if other functions have been opened too much in relation to the corona situation.

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