The City of Helsinki supports the government in promoting the rapid introduction of the COVID-19 passport. The aim is to make the COVID-19 passport available in limited and non-statutory sectors, such as culture, events and restaurants. The practical implementation of the COVID-19 passport was tested in Helsinki at an invitation-only event at the Old Student House on 23 August 2021. The City of Helsinki was responsible for the experiment and the premises for the experiment were provided by NoHo Partners.
The voluntary experiment complied with all applicable COVID-19 restrictions on private events and restaurant activities, and a self-printed EU COVID-19 certificate from the My Kanta service or an associated QR code was used for admission.
“We were able to successfully demonstrate that, with very little preparation time, it is possible to organise an event where an operational model such as the COVID-19 passport can be used to good effect. Our experiment shows that if the COVID-19 passport is enabled, it would be relatively easy for operators to implement. It was evident from the participants that there is a high demand and need for fun events, and there should be no restrictions on the implementation of events if health safety can be ensured,” enthuses Jani Moliis, the Director of the Enterprise Services Unit coordinating the COVID-19 passport project in the city.
Caption: In his speech, Mayor Juhana Vartiainen stressed the importance of restaurants and events in bringing the city to life.
The demonstration of a reduced risk of coronavirus infection tested with two applications
In order to access the event, the guests had to download one of the following three certificates from My Kanta: a certificate of having received two COVID-19 vaccinations, a certificate of a negative coronavirus test result taken within 72 hours or certificate of recovery from COVID-19 within the previous six months.
Two applications were tested at the event. The certificates of the participants were read using the Covid Certificate Check application developed by the Swiss health authorities, which shows confirmation of a reduced risk of infection. The second experiment was to test the possibility of using an application to verify the arrival and departure times of people coming to the event site in order to track possible exposures.
The event was a success as the apps proved to be relatively easy to use and there were no queues at the restaurant door, for example. The experience of the trial was therefore very encouraging in the sense that the use of the apps does not slow down the entry to the restaurant. The City of Helsinki will continue to test and utilise the possibilities for using the COVID-19 passport in its own operations, so that it can be adopted more widely and quickly.
Caption: The event was organised to test the possibility of using an application to verify the arrival and departure times of people coming to the event site in order to track possible exposures.
Helsinki relies heavily on the cultural, events and hospitality sectors
The cultural, events and hospitality sectors play a key role as a source of vitality in large cities such as Helsinki. For this reason, the COVID-19 passport would play a major role in opening up society and relaunching tourism. The COVID-19 passport will allow for less severe restrictions, and its introduction would make it possible not only to make it easier for businesses to operate, but also to reduce unemployment among young people, for example.
Together with its cultural, hospitality and event sectors, Helsinki has offered the state a partnership in the development and piloting of the COVID-19 passport. The passport will be developed in partnership with the government and the sector’s businesses and will draw on solutions from other EU countries.
The COVID-19 passport is promoted by a working group under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which will assess the conditions and needs for legislation on the COVID-19 passport and implement a possible government proposal for legislation on the COVID-19 passport. Helsinki is taking part in the working group.
Caption of the main image: Helsinki tested the use of the COVID-19 passport at an invitation-only event at the Old Student House on 23 August 2021. Timo Lassy Trio, among others, performed at the event.
Photos: Tero Lahti