The load placed by the coronavirus pandemic on social and health care services in the Helsinki metropolitan area has remained high and non-urgent activities have had to be largely reduced. At the moment, however, it seems that the increase in the load has stopped and has begun to decrease in the metropolitan area. The persistence of high levels of infections or an increase in infections significantly overloads social and health care services. Existing severe restrictions have prevented long-term contact between adults and are, therefore, likely to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and safeguard the carrying capacity of social and health care.
Based on an up-to-date picture of the epidemic situation, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland that it removes the closures of low-risk premises as of 1 February 2022. The lifting of premises restrictions would therefore apply, among others, to gyms and other similar indoor sports facilities, as well as swimming pools, public saunas and spas, facilities used for amateur theatres or other similar group activities, indoor playgrounds and indoor playparks, public lounges in shopping malls as well as amusement and theme parks, fairgrounds and indoor zoo facilities.
The assessment has utilized the risk assessment of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare regarding events and gatherings.
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group further recommends that indoor premises used for team sports, group sports, contact sports and other similar sports or exercise, as well as dance venues and choir singing facilities remain closed in accordance with the previous decision.
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group will closely monitor the development of the epidemic situation, and if the situation and the hospital load continues to decline, other restrictive measures will be phased out. The controlled and gradual lifting of restrictions is important from the point of view of the overall management of the epidemic.
It is still very important that every citizen accepts their own responsibility: to take the COVID-19 vaccines, always use a face mask in public premises and on public transport, and not to meet other people when displaying symptoms.
New restrictions are recommended for indoor public events
The Helsinki Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has recommended to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland that it extends the current restriction decision on public events pursuant to section 58 of the Communicable Diseases Act after 31 January 2022, so that indoor seating for up to 50 people would be allowed from 1-15 February 2022.
In addition, the group recommends that the Regional State Administrative Agency extend the current regulation on customer premises restrictions pursuant to section 58 d of the Communicable Diseases Act for two weeks after 31 January 2022 from 1-15 February 2022.
The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group prepares local decision-making
The Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and the Regional State Administrative Agency for 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.
In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen also follows the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.