In a 17 December 2020 meeting, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group determined guidelines for the celebration of Christmas and New Year holidays. The guidelines are in accordance with earlier instructions from the Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) and existing recommendations and restrictions.
The coordination group strongly advises everyone to limit their close contacts over the holidays 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. Everyone should spend Christmas at home in the company of those they are closest to only. If you have symptoms, you should seek out testing and avoid interacting with others. Coronavirus testing will be available throughout the holiday period. Avoid crowded places when possible, in favour of, for example, the home delivery of presents and groceries. Take special care with members of at-risk groups by opting to leave gifts and food behind their door instead of a visit, for example.
New Year firework displays have been cancelled in the capital city area, and the coordination group strongly recommends that everyone abstain from using fireworks altogether this season.
Testing of staff and residents at care homes is being increased in the region.
Authorities in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area monitor the impact of the existing recommendations and restrictions on the area’s epidemic situation daily. Current recommendations and restrictions decided by the coordination group on 26 November 2020 will continue until 10 January 2021. The group will assess the need to extend these recommendations and restrictions in good time before the current time period expires.
The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa are joined by the city of Kauniainen in observing the recommendations and restrictions of the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group.
Recommendations and restrictions decided by the coordination group on 26 November 2020 will be valid 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 10 January 2020. The decision to extend these restrictions was 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.