In a 10 December 2020 meeting, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group decided that recommendations and restrictions currently in force in the region will be continued until 10 January 2021. This new decision responds to the threat of the epidemic spreading and social and healthcare services becoming overburdened. The temporary recommendations and restrictions may be extended once again in January, if necessary.
Authorities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are monitoring the impact of the existing recommendations and restrictions on the area’s epidemic situation on a daily basis. The current recommendations and restrictions decided upon by the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group on 26 November 2020 were originally valid until 20 December 2020, with Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland restrictions on public events valid until 18 December 2020. These recommendations and restrictions have now been extended and will continue until 10 January 2021. This proactive approach is intended to clarify the operations of the region’s cities, communities and businesses as the year comes to a close and help residents plan their activities. The decisions were drawn up on the basis of the epidemiological assessment and an overall assessment of the general situation.
In addition to the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the capital area city of Kauniainen will also observe the coronavirus coordination group’s decision to extend the current recommendations and restrictions.
Recommendations and restrictions decided by the coordination group on 26 November 2020 now extended until 10 January 2021
All municipally-organised leisure activities (including basic art education) held indoors will be cancelled. All leisure activities for people over 20 years of age held outdoors will also be cancelled.
All bookings of outdoors sports facilities for people over 20 years of age will be cancelled. Outdoors sports for people under the age of 20 will continue based on the times booked earlier. Competitions, games or series will not be held. No new bookings will be accepted.
Outdoor sports facilities are available for resident use at all times when children’s and young people’s activities are not taking place. Supervision and the presence of youth instructors will be increased in the outdoor facilities. Changing rooms and maintenance buildings will be closed.
Schools’ physical education classes will be held outdoors and inside school facilities, not in other sports facilities.
The practice and competition opportunities for competitive and professional sports will be 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.
The coordination group continues to strongly recommend that private operators adhere to these same restrictions.
These restrictions are in effect from 30 November 2020 to 10 January 2021.
Organising public events
All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors will be temporarily prohibited, although those with a maximum of 10 participants will be allowed if participant safety can be ensured based on the instructions given by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on 21 September 2020. These 10-person-maximum events and meetings should however be absolutely necessary, for example, statutory meetings of housing companies and associations. Even at these meetings, remote connections should be used whenever possible.
These restrictions are in effect from 30 November to 18 December 2020. Relevant decisions about extending these restrictions will be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland.
Organising private events
The coordination group still strongly recommends that close contacts be restricted to members of the same household or people who are considered as close as household members only. The organisation of other private meetings or family gatherings is not recommended. Guests at funerals or memorial services should be limited to a very small group of closest relatives.
This recommendation is in effect from 30 November 2020 to 10 January 2021.
All customer premises that are open to the public will stay closed. This includes all municipal indoor sports facilities, cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. The operations of adult education centres will also continue to be suspended. Korkeasaari Zoo will stay 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 on a limited basis, with due regard for health and safety.
The coordination group continues to recommend that private operators close similar sports and leisure facilities.
Libraries will continue to offer limited services, which include:
- Picking up materials from the reservation shelves and select themed shelves by the self-service machines
- Essential and quick use of the customer computers
- Service primarily relies on advance reservations and use of the self-service machines
- If necessary, the service desk will provide assistance and guidance
- Wearing a mask is obligatory when using libraries, unless health reasons prohibit it
These restrictions are in effect from 30 November 2020 to 10 January 2021.
Upper secondary education
Institutions of upper secondary education (general upper secondary schools and vocational education) will continue to arrange their instruction as 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 10 January 2020.
Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group prepares and coordinates local decision-making
The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), and the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland established the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group on 10 September 2020. In line with a regional operating model devised by Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the group aims to strengthen the formation of a common situational assessment and to coordinate and prepare local and regional measures.
The group consists of top management from each member organisation and is responsible for the preparation and coordination of decision-making based on a shared assessment of the situation. Each member makes decisions independently, within its own sphere of authority. The group further intensifies the close metropolitan area collaboration that has continued throughout the coronavirus crisis. The City of Helsinki is responsible for organising the group’s operations.
Photo: Heikki Nummi