The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) recommended on 13 August 2020 that residents of almost all areas of Finland begin wearing face masks in situations where it is difficult to avoid close contact with others, for example, when using public transportation. People arriving in Finland from countries that continue to be subject to border control or people in transit to covid-19 testing should also wear a mask.
The City of Helsinki has been laying the groundwork for possible additional measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, after the number of covid-19 infections started to increase again in the month of August. The THL recommendation to wear face masks is a welcome addition to the precautions that are already in place. Using a mask on public transport or in other situations in which is difficult to avoid close contact can reduce the rate of illness and improve public safety.
"Preventing the spread of the coronavirus epidemic requires each of us to act responsibly. The residents of Helsinki have been very good about adhering to various instructions and guidelines to date. I have faith that they will adopt wide-scale use of face masks on public transport and in other required situations. The coronavirus situation is worrying, and we want to do everything we can to prevent the imposition of stricter restrictions on urban life. The City of Helsinki will do everything in its power to support the use of masks and to ensure that vulnerable people who are low on funds will be able to comply with the recommendation," says Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.
In principle, Helsinki residents are themselves responsible for using the masks as recommended. This includes purchasing the appropriate masks and other attending costs. However, no one’s financial situation should present an obstacle to complying with the recommendation. The City of Helsinki is making plans to distribute cloth face masks to low-income city residents and is working with various charities to collect the necessary information. Mask distribution schedules and pick-up locations will be announced separately.
City of Helsinki will supply masks to employees that need them
City of Helsinki employees working in healthcare and social services often need to use face masks while on the job, but the new mask recommendation will add several other groups of employees to this list of workers who need to wear a mask while performing their duties. The City of Helsinki, as their employer, will supply these employees with the masks they need.
The city has built up a decent store of face masks, but as the coronavirus crisis continues, considerable quantities are required. An effort to procure even more masks has already been started.
Implementation of the mask recommendation is being coordinated jointly by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, along with Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) and the metropolitan area hospital network HUS.
More information on HSL activities and public transport in the capital area will be announced in the coming days.
THL facemask recommendations
HSL: Together for safety: We recommend wearing a facemask on public transport
Photo: Lauri Eriksson / HSL