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Finland: Government moves to loosen alcohol laws

The three governing parties have reached agreement on a raft of changes to Finland’s strict alcohol regulations. These would range from allowing retail sales of stronger drinks by grocery shops, microbreweries and restaurants to doing away with fenced-off serving areas at festivals, YLE Uutiset report.

Stronger beer may appear on Finnish grocery stores early next year, along with many other changes loosening up Finland’s strict alcohol regulations. The maximum alcohol content of beverages sold in regular shops appears set to rise from the present 4.7 percent to 5.5 percent. This would also cover cider and long drinks.

Under a compromise struck by MPs representing each of the coalition parties, there will be no change to the times when alcohol may be sold in normal shops, that is, 7 am to 9 pm.

The move has been backed by microbreweries and shops, but opposed by the state alcohol retailer Alko, which now has a monopoly on retail sales of drinks stronger than 4.7 percent. The change will certainly eat into Alko’s sales.

The Centre Party’s Minister of Family Affairs and Social Service, Juha Rehula, is to finalise the government’s stance before the Midsummer holiday in late June.

Read further from YLE Uutiset

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