The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has decided to tighten the face mask recommendation in its region. With this decision, the metropolitan area will return to a broad face mask recommendation for all persons aged 12 years and older, regardless of the level of vaccination coverage. The use of face masks is recommended in all indoor public spaces and on public transport where other people are present. The use of face masks is therefore also recommended in educational institutions from the sixth grade onwards. The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has also decided to return to a broad remote work recommendation.
The coronavirus coordination group hopes that the face mask recommendation will also be widely adopted by private operators. It is recommended that private operators require staff and customers to wear masks at public events, in shops, on public transport and other customer premises. HSL and VR are recommended to reinstate the mask obligation for public transport in the metropolitan area as soon as possible.
The coronavirus coordination group also recommends that employers organise remote work in all jobs where it is possible, even on a temporary basis. If remote work is not possible, it is recommended that the employer encourages the use of a face mask in all work areas, even if safety distances can be maintained. At workplaces, lunch and coffee breaks should be staggered and the need for personal meetings should be carefully assessed.
The mask and remote work recommendations are in force until 16 January 2022. The mask recommendation will enter into force immediately and employers are urged to take immediate action to enforce the remote work recommendation.
The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group calls on the government to introduce stricter restrictions on the restaurant industry and to bring forward the third round of vaccination
Rising infection rates and the strain on hospital care require urgent action from both regional operators and the government. Managing the epidemic is a shared responsibility.
The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group continues to call on the government to significantly tighten the restrictions on the restaurant industry. The coronavirus coordination group considers that in the current epidemic situation, the opening hours of restaurants should be more restricted and serving alcohol should be stopped earlier than at present. As we approach the festive season, the restrictions on restaurants serving food should also be extended by reducing the maximum number of seats allowed and narrowing the opening hours. In principle, the restrictions should remain in place over the Christmas season in order to influence the waves of the epidemic.
The coronavirus coordination group recommends that all restaurants in the metropolitan area require the COVID-19 passport from their customers during all opening hours. All restaurants and cafés have the opportunity to adopt the COVID-19 passport and thus be exempt from the restrictions on the number of customers. If a restaurant does not adopt the COVID-19 passport, the customer capacity will currently be limited to 50% for restaurants serving alcohol and 75% for other restaurants.
The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group also wants to push for an earlier interval for third doses of the vaccine, up from the current six months, and for the possibility of vaccinating 5–11-year-olds, should the safety evidence for vaccinating children be deemed sufficient in the assessment of the National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (KRAR). Bringing forward the third round of vaccination is an important way of preventing the spread of the epidemic and managing the burden on health services. The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group calls on the government to move the issue forward quickly.
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.
Photo: Sakari Röyskö