Instructions for food businesses during the coronavirus pandemic

According to current knowledge, the coronavirus is primarily transmitted through droplet transmission and close contact with other people.

During the current epidemic, food businesses such as restaurants, cafés, grocery shops, bakeries and other food production facilities must maintain excellent hygiene in their operations. Please refer to the Finnish Food Authority’s website for instructions concerning hygiene for food industry businesses and answers to frequently asked questions.

Exceptions to notifications concerning the food business

As an exception, other operators in addition to food businesses and primary producers may also deliver food products in order to make operations easier. Starting food product deliveries does not require a separate notification as long as the exceptional circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic exist. If the food product deliveries continue after the pandemic is over, you must file a notification on your operations.

When transporting any kind of foodstuff, you must make sure that your transportation equipment is clean, the food has been packaged correctly and that the temperature of the food products is controlled during transportation (cold food up to 6 °C, hot food at least 60 °C). When delivering meals, you must try to avoid close contact with the customers.

You must notify Environmental Services of any suspension of food business operations, as usual. As an exception, suspending the operations of a food business for less than six months does not require a separate notification. If the operations within a food facility change (e.g. a restaurant starts delivering food to for sale in grocery stores), the operator must contact Environmental Services.

City of Helsinki Environmental Services recommend adopting the following practices in locations serving and selling food products for as long as the exceptional situation due to the coronavirus pandemic is ongoing:

Restaurants and serving food

  • Replace buffet style meals with individual portions.
  • Stagger food serving times.
  • Sell baked goods and similar products in packages or have the staff serve them to the customer.
  • Make sure that hand washing stations are equipped with disposable paper towels and liquid soap.
  • The cutlery is provided by the staff.
  • Have the staff hand cutlery to the customers.
  • Enhance cleaning of any surfaces customers touch, including payment terminals and lavatory door handles.
  • Package take away meals carefully. Ensure that the packaging material is suitable for packaging food.

Sale of food products

  • We recommend closing salad bars and similar self-serve stations, such as sushi bars, for the time being and selling the products in packages or having the staff serve them.
  • We recommend having the staff package any bakery products such as rolls, Karelian pies and sweet pastries.
  • Any surfaces touched by customers, such as shopping trolley handles, shopping baskets, payment terminals, self-service checkout desks and scales, must be cleaned carefully. 

Outdoor sale of food products and serving food

  • When organising the outdoor sale and serving of food, you must ensure that the landowner has given permission for the activities. In terms of public areas in the City, the permit can be acquired from the Land Use and Monitoring Unit (kymp.ulkoilma@hel.fi).
  • Notifications of sales from movable food premises must be submitted to Environmental Services at least four weekdays before the sales event.
  • Please observe the regulations concerning gatherings of more than ten people issued by Regional State Administrative Agencies (concerning both sales people and customers). Any activities must be arranged so as to minimise contact between people. It is recommended that people keep a safe distance of one metre from each other even when queueing.
  • Restaurants planning on establishing movable food premises (food truck, sales tent, etc.) should contact Environmental Services before starting their operations. You must submit a food establishment notification for movable food premises.

For more information, please contact:

City of Helsinki Environmental Services, Food Safety Unit

Information on foodstuffs tel. 09 310 14000 (Mon–Fri 9–11)
elintarviketurvallisuus@hel.fi (general questions concerning food monitoring) and
kymp.ulkomyynti@hel.fi (questions concerning selling foodstuffs outdoors)


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