The coronavirus coordination group for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area.

Helsinki Metropolitan Area adopts new ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus

Operating model to identify high-risk restaurants and recommendation on private events to take effect immediately.

The coronavirus coordination group for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area is concerned about the proliferation of the coronavirus in the region and is working to find new methods of prevention. Another aim is to help society remain open. The metropolitan area is in the acceleration phase of the epidemic. All acceleration phase regulations and recommendations issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have been implemented in the region. The new recommendations and operating models place a special emphasis on preventing the spreading of the virus through restaurants, private and public services, and private events. The local recommendations and restrictions are supplemental to the national provisions and guidelines.

The coronavirus coordination group has decided on an operating model for the Helsinki Metropolitan Area to intensify the monitoring of restaurants in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act. The model aims to institute targeted measures to address risky behaviour and elevated risks at specific restaurants.

Under the operating model, HUS and the metropolitan area cities will identify high-risk restaurants that do not observe the obligations laid down in the Communicable Diseases Act and the Decree based thereon, or that cannot otherwise ensure safe and healthy conditions. The Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland will be organising targeted restaurant inspections. If deficiencies are found in health security or the high-risk conduct persists, the Regional State Administrative Agency may demand corrective measures or close the restaurant in question temporarily. The operating model will enter into force immediately. If the model is effective, it can ideally lead to a situation where new collective restrictions on restaurants will no longer be needed.

The coronavirus coordination group also recommends private traders to require their customers to wear a face mask in all situations. The recommendation applies to traders who come into face-to-face contact with customers – e.g. shops, shopping centres, cultural services and sports events. The effective legislation does not permit instituting an obligation to wear a face mask when using public services. That being said, the group strongly urges people to wear a face mask at all times when accessing public premises and services, such as public transport, libraries, museums and other cultural services.

Furthermore, the group decided to strongly recommend exercising special care and restraint when organising private events. A significant proportion of coronavirus infections have been related to private events or recreational activities on private premises. The group’s strong recommendation applies to the arrangement of private parties, recreational events or student events, for example.

“The epidemic is spreading at an alarming rate in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. To make matters worse, the restrictions implemented to curtail the spread are causing social and financial distress. The outbreak is not going anywhere anytime soon, so our goal is to prevent the propagation of the virus, secure sufficient health care capacity and protect members of risk groups, while maintaining the best possible functional capability of our society. Ideally, local measures are practical, targeted and impactful. We strive to communicate about these matters in a clear and unified manner,” say Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Espoo Jukka Mäkelä, Mayor of Vantaa Ritva Viljanen, THL Director Mika Salminen, Director General of the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland Merja Ekqvist and CEO of HUS Juha Tuominen.

The metropolitan area’s coronavirus coordination group is preparing local decision-making

The cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, THL, HUS and the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland established a regional coronavirus coordination group on 10.9.2020. The aim of the group, which applies the regional operating model of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, is to strengthen the shared situational picture as well as coordinate and prepare regional and local measures.

Consisting of top-level executives and administrators, the group uses the shared situational picture to prepare and coordinate decision-making. The final decisions are made by the respective operators within the limits of their authority. The group serves to tighten the metropolitan area collaboration that has continued through the coronavirus crisis.

The City of Helsinki is responsible for organising the group’s operations.

Photo: Ilkka Ranta-aho