The restaurants were allowed to open their doors from the beginning of June, subject to a few restrictions. The number of guests is limited by half, the restaurants will close no later than 11 pm and the drinking of alcohol must stop as early as 10 pm. There is no limit to the number of customers on terraces or other outdoor dining venues.

In customers, the opening of restaurants has been welcomed all over Finland. Ilta-Sanomat followed the opening of Finland from Monday morning. You can access the tracking article here.

The transition from mere takeaway meals to on-site serving and refreshments is also a welcome change in the restaurant industry. Expectations are good, as according to a study commissioned by the Economic Survey of the Tourism and Restaurant Sector, the majority of consumers intend to use restaurant services after the end of the closure obligation.

Topias Hulkko, 23, who has worked in the restaurant industry since 2014, was able to return to work today, among many others. Hulkko, a native of Vantaa, has been laid off from work at the Maritime Pavilion since March.

- You have very good feelings. Nice to go back to work, although there was plenty to do during the layoffs. Nice though, that there is again a routine and something rhythm in life.

Waitress Topias Hulkko is happy to return to work.

Photo: Jussi Helttunen

The Sea Pavilion for 150 people The pull-out terrace was not yet crowded on Monday, but there were newcomers right after the opening. According to Hulko, customers had seemed happy to get to the terrace. There have also been good reservations for the interior.

Hulkko hopes that next summer will be better weather than last summer and that the corona will be relaxed.

- As long as everyone stays healthy and is able to properly enjoy unlimited life and a good terrace summer.

The Sea Pavilion is part of the Restaurant Triangle Group. Restaurant Triangle, which operates in the Helsinki metropolitan area, opened almost all of its restaurants on Monday. Only the doors of Restaurant Lasipalatsi, which is being renovated after water damage, have not been opened at all so far.

There have also been quite nice customers compared to the fact that it was Monday, says Joonas Keskinen, the Group's field director.

- Lunches have come to the scene feeling. Not in large numbers, but a hundred on both sides per restaurant. There have also been some drink customers and terrace visitors, although there has not been the best Terrace Weather.

As the buffet is not allowed according to the government's policy, the chef distributes lunch portions and cutlery from the line to the customer in the restaurants of the Restaurant Triangle. Customer safety is taken care of carefully.

Timo Lappi, CEO of the tourism and restaurant industry, says that the opening in restaurants has been received with cautious optimism. So far, many say the restaurant has already opened its doors, it is difficult to assess.

According to Lapland, many smaller restaurants in particular have to consider whether opening is still profitable. According to him, the income from the opening with a limited number of customers may not be enough to cover the costs of the opening.

Timo Lappi, CEO of MaRa, has recently appeared in the media several times to talk about the situation in the restaurant and tourism industry.

Photo: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

- The main reason is severe restrictions. Halving the number of customers and banning buffet dining will eat up profitability, especially in smaller lunch buffets, if the restaurant does not have a large terrace or terrace activities to get off to a good start, Lapland estimates.

On the other hand, the profitability of terrace operations is also affected by, for example, the weather. The government will next review restaurant restrictions next two weeks. One of the key changes MaRa wants is to increase the occupancy rate of restaurants from 50% to 75%.

Opening up from the perspective of workers in the sector has also been hoped for.

According to a business cycle barometer published by PAM in April, 67.3 per cent of tourism and restaurant workers who responded to the barometer were laid off. Nearly 6 percent also said they were laid off part-time. 87.3 per cent of the respondents said that their employer had started layoffs.

PAM's economist Olli Toivanen tells Taloussanomat that the largest number of layoffs is in large centers, such as Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Pirkanmaa and Northern Ostrobothnia. Waiters and chefs were among the most laid off from the service industries in April.

- Lapland and Åland also differ from the provinces in the number of layoffs, which indicates the importance of the tourism industry in these areas.

PAM's economist Olli Toivanen says that tourism plays a significant role in the recovery of the restaurant industry.

Photo: Jaakko Lukumaa

Tourism is playing a significant role in the recovery of the restaurant industry, especially outside major centers. Toivanen points out that restaurants, especially those living from foreign tourists, must be prepared for the fact that tourists from abroad will hardly be seen in Finland this summer. Domestic tourism can have a big impact.

- Finland's tourism balance has been in deficit by a couple of billion euros. If this money were used in Finland, it would know really well for the tourism industry.

According to Toivanen, the most important thing is to restore consumer confidence so that demand can grow again. In addition to health and safety, consumers' own economic prospects must be taken into account.

- Restaurants are often the first to be compromised if their own finances are tight, Toivanen reminds.