Current recommendations and restrictions in Helsinki
The coronavirus epidemic is currently in the active spreading phase in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. More information on the national health authority's community transmission phase criteria is provided at the end of this page.
This compilation presents the recommendations and restrictions currently in effect in Helsinki with regard to the coronavirus crisis. Among other things, the information covers face mask recommendations, and recommendations and restrictions in restaurants and bars, travel, public spaces, gatherings, daycare centres and schools.
In addition, various city divisions have issued special recommendations and communicated about them in the context of the relevant services.
Face masks are recommended for all persons aged 12 and above in the following situations:
- When using public transport
- At public events and in public spaces, such as shops and banks
- For everyone who is not working remotely, masks should be worn at work in all of your encounters with others and when moving about the workplace. This recommendation applies to jobs in both the public and private sector.
- When using municipal services, such as social and health care services
- When visiting the library and using library services (does not apply, if health-related reasons prevent mask use)
- At sports and cultural events
- On all recreational premises
- In upper secondary and tertiary education, which includes general upper secondary schools, vocational education and institutes of higher education
- In lower secondary schools (grades 7-9). Cities of the region will provide masks for this purpose.
- When parents drop off and pick up their children at daycare or pre-primary education
Daycare centre staff should wear masks indoors whenever possible. Early childhood education employees who travel to several locations in their work are in particular asked to observe the mask recommendation.
- Social and health care staff in patient and customer contact should wear a mask
- In transit to a coronavirus tests and during the wait for results, if leaving the home cannot be avoided
- When arriving in Finland from a risk area and travelling from the arrival point to quarantine, or if it is necessary to leave home during quarantine
- In other situations where it is not possible to avoid close contact
- More information: Face mask recommendations
Indoor leisure activities suspended, as are outdoor leisure activities for adults
All organised leisure activities (including basic art education) held indoors have been temporarily cancelled. All leisure activities for people over 20 years old held outdoors have also been cancelled for the time being.
All outdoors sports reservations for people over 20 years old are cancelled. Outdoors sports for people under 20 years old continue based on the reservations booked earlier. Competitions, games or series are not taking place. New reservations are not being booked.
Outdoor sports facilities are available to Helsinki residents when children’s and young people’s activities are not held there. Supervision and the presence of youth instructors have been increased in these outdoor areas. Changing rooms and maintenance buildings are closed.
Schools’ physical education classes are being held outdoors and in school facilities, not in other sports facilities.
The practice and competition opportunities for competitive and professional sports have been secured for professional sports based on a series licence agreement or sports agreement as defined by the Ministry of Education and Culture. This includes national teams, athletes supported by the Olympic Committee and athletes receiving a grant from the Ministry of Education and Culture in collaboration with the Metropolitan Area Sports Academy.
These restrictions are in effect from 30 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.
Hobby and recreational activities on non-municipal premises
On 30 November, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommended that private operators adhere to the same restrictions as the city:
- All organised leisure activities (including basic art education) held indoors should be cancelled. All leisure activities for people over 20 years old held outdoors should also be cancelled.
- All outdoors sports reservations for people over 20 years old should be cancelled. Outdoors sports for people under 20 years old can continue based on the reservations booked earlier. Competitions, games or series should not be held. New reservations should not be booked.
Working from home is recommended for all tasks that can be carried out remotely. Furthermore, work arrangements that can reduce close contact and other risk factors in workplaces must be promoted.
All those working on location at public and private sector workplaces are recommended to wear a face mask while indoors at the workplace and in the presence of other persons. This recommendation entered into force on 23 November. Persons who cannot wear a face mask for health-related reasons will not be required to wear a mask. The affected persons will not be required to provide a medical certificate or other proof.
Visitation restrictions at social and health care units
With the worsening of the coronavirus epidemic, stricter visitation restrictions have been applied at hospitals, service centres and senior centres. The new restrictions are valid from
4 December 2020 to 31 January 2021.
Relatives and loved ones may not visit hospitals during this period. Patients may not be met outdoors, either. It is possible to visit patients who are in terminal care or have serious illnesses, however. The visits must be agreed on with the personnel.
Residents of senior centres and service centres may be visited by their relatives and loved ones once a day. One visitor is allowed at a time. We recommend that the visits are kept short. About 15 minutes is a good length for a visit. Outdoor visits remain possible. Outdoor visits can last for 30 minutes, and the maximum number of visitors at a time is two.
All visits must be agreed on in advance with the care facility of the relative, and face masks must be used during the visits. You only may pay a visit when you are well. Safe distances and good hand hygiene must be ensured.
Service centres for pensioners and the unemployed closed until March 2021
City of Helsinki service centres for pensioners and the unemployed will stay closed until at least 28 February 2021. The possibility of opening the service centres will be reassessed in February.
Day activities for the elderly suspended
Day activities for the elderly have been temporarily suspended until 31 January 2021. Day activity clients will be contacted in person about this suspension.
Public premises closed
All customer spaces open to the public have been closed since 30 November. This includes all municipal indoor sports facilities, cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. The operations of adult education centres has likewise been temporarily cancelled. Korkeasaari Zoo is closed.
The facilities used for providing healthcare and social services, early childhood education, comprehensive education and essential upper secondary education will remain open. Services such as the essential use of customer computers in libraries and the distribution of face masks to those in need will continue. The cities will define the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open limitedly and with regard to health and safety.
The coordination group recommends that private operators close similar sports and leisure facilities.
Libraries continue to offer limited services, which include:
- Picking up materials from the reservations shelves and select themed shelves by the self-service machines
- Essential and quick use of the customer computers
- The primary service methods are advance reservations and self-service via the machines
- If necessary, assistance and guidance will be provided at the service desk
- Wearing a mask is obligatory when using the services (does not apply, if health-related reasons prevent it)
These restrictions are in effect from 30 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.
Restrictions on restaurant opening hours, serving times and customer capacity
- Restaurants can stay open until 23:00 at the latest, and alcohol may be served from 7–22. This restriction is valid until 28 February 2021.
- For example, alcohol may be served in connection with breakfast starting at 7:00, provided that the Regional State Administrative Agency has granted permission for this activity. Without this permission, the serving of alcohol can start at 9:00 at the earliest.
- After closing, restaurants may not open their doors again before 05:00.
- These opening hour restrictions do not concern restaurants operating in connection with service stations.
- Half of the seats in restaurants serving mainly alcohol can be occupied at one time. This restriction is valid until 28 February 2021.
- Three quarters of the seats of other restaurants, such as food restaurants, cafeterias, fast food restaurants and pizzerias can be occupied at one time. This restriction is valid until 28 February 2021.
- The serving hour restrictions apply to all alcoholic drinks with a volume percent exceeding 1.2.
- The Alcohol Act and the regulations concerning the alcohol serving license of the restaurant must always be observed when serving alcohol.
- In addition, restaurants must provide opportunities for customer to wash their hands, as well as ensure sufficient distances both indoors and in queues.
The opening hour restrictions do not concern maritime and air transport between Finland and other countries. Restaurants operating in connection with service stations are also excluded from the scope of these restrictions.
According to the operating model deployed in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, the operations of an individual restaurant can be restricted in cases where the restaurant in question does not observe the applicable recommendations and restrictions or cannot otherwise ensure safe conditions. Relevant decisions will be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland (AVI).
All indoor and outdoor public events and meetings have been prohibited for a fixed period as of 30 November. However, absolutely indispensable public events and meetings with a maximum of 10 persons may be arranged, if participant safety can be guaranteed in compliance with the instructions issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on 21 September 2020.
For example, statutory shareholders’ meetings and association meetings count as indispensable events. Remote connections must be used also in these cases, whenever possible.
Sports and cultural events
Organisers of sports and cultural events are strongly encouraged to recommend face mask usage for event participants. Organisers of private events can decide at their own discretion whether to require participants at their events to use a face mask.
As of 30 November,
the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has strongly advised everyone to limit their close contacts to members of the same household or those considered as close as household members. Other kinds of private gatherings or meetings with extended family are not recommended. Guests at a funeral or a memorial service should be restricted to only a small group of close relatives.
These recommendation are in effect from 30 November 2020 to 31 January 2021.
National travel recommendations and restrictions are in effect, meaning that everyone should avoid nonessential travel to countries other than those for which travel restrictions have been lifted. Domestic travel is permitted, provided that health and safety instructions related to the coronavirus are observed. Avoid all travel when ill.
Finnish Government: Restrictions and recommendations during the coronavirus epidemic
Upper secondary schools move to distace learning
Upper secondary schools (general upper secondary schools and vocational education) have transferred to distance learning. These learning institutions will still provide face-to-face instruction that is deemed essential. For example, contact teaching will be offered to students with disabilities that are receiving special needs education and to students who need individual support for various reasons.
Distance learning began at the start of the new evaluation period on 3 December 2020 and will continue until 31 January 2021.
All upper secondary school students who are preparing for matriculation examinations this spring will be given the option to attend preparatory classes in person for the period between 18 January 2021 and the end of the third evaluation period.
Safety in education, other extraordinary teaching arrangements
Safety recommendations from the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) are observed in early childhood education and basic education.
Primary and secondary schools in the city must stagger starting times and lunches, in addition to ensuring safe distances and the practice of good hand hygiene. In the event that a coronavirus infection is discovered in an early education establishment, school or other educational institute, those exposed will be traced and quarantined. Remote teaching must be arranged for all of the students who have been judged to be exposed. Decisions on quarantine are made by physicians specialising in infectious diseases.
If it becomes challenging to organise basic education as the epidemic escalates, for example, if several staff members are placed in quarantine, the school will transition to special teaching arrangements that introduce distance learning for multiple classes. Decisions of this nature will be made by the head of the City of Helsinki’s Education Division. The decision requires an assessment from a health authority that indicates the necessity of extraordinary teaching arrangements.
Face mask recommendation for comprehensive education personnel
All personnel of comprehensive schools are recommended must wear a face mask at work. Adherence to the mask recommendation helps ensure the continuation of classroom education and reduces exposures on school premises. This recommendation entered into force on 11 November 2020.
Mask recommendation extends to sixth graders
The face mask recommendation in basic education was extended to sixth graders as of 13 January 2021, in accordance with recommendations from THL. The children are requested to comply with the recommendation, unless a medical reason prevents this. The students will be shown in school how to wear a face mask safely. Sixth graders in Helsinki will receive free face masks from the schools, but they can also use their own masks. This recommendation will remain valid until further notice.
More on the topic:
Coronavirus updates from Helsinki
Description of the community transmission phase of the coronavirus epidemic
- Infections spread among the population regionally or more extensively: one-week incidence is more than 12–25 cases per 100,000 residents, and in two weeks more than 18–50 cases per 100,000 residents.
- The daily growth rate in cases is more than 10 percent.
- More than 2 percent of tests are positive.
- Fewer than half of the sources of infection can be traced.
- The need for hospital care and intensive care grows fast.
- Source: THL