City of Helsinki.

Metropolitan area coronavirus coordination group recommends continuation of closed door policy, actual distancing requirement and restrictions on public events

The metropolitan area’s coronavirus coordination group recommends the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland to decide to extend the validity of the regional restrictions laid down in the area in accordance with section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act until 28 March 2021, and to continue the validity of the restrictions laid down in accordance with section 58(d) of the said Act by one month. Section 58(g) is related to the closure of public and private premises in the area, whereas section 58(d) is related to the requirement of enabling actual distancing at public premises.

In addition, the coronavirus coordination group recommends the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland to decide to extend the validity of the regional restrictions on the organisation of public events by one month.

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland will separately inform of the decisions and their details.

The coronavirus coordination group is worried by the spread of the epidemic within its regional scope of authority and is of the opinion that the extension of the valid restrictions and recommendations is justified.

Earlier restrictions and recommendations by the coronavirus coordination group that will mostly be valid until the end of March

The restrictions and recommendations imposed by the coronavirus coordination group regarding private events, the use of public premises and remote work will remain in place until 31 March 2021. The decision was made based on the prevalent epidemiological situation and overall assessment. In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.

Closure of public and private premises, temporary section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act

Premises have been ordered to close in the region pursuant to section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act. The closure decision applies widely to the following types of facilities and premises of public and private sector operators:

  • indoor facilities used for team and group sports, contact sports and similar sports or physical exercise, as well as gyms and other similar indoor sports facilities
  • public saunas and swimming halls, outdoor swimming pools, pool facilities at spas and the dressing rooms in their immediate connection
  • dance facilities and facilities used for choir singing, amateur theatre and other similar recreational group activities
  • amusement and theme parks, fairs (circuses) and indoor facilities of zoos
  • indoor playparks and similar premises
  • public lounges at shopping centres, with the exception of retail business premises, premises used for providing services and the access routes to these.

However, indoor facilities may be used if the number of concurrent customers or participants does not exceed ten. For outdoor facilities, the limit is 50 customers. Operators that do not restrict the maximum occupant numbers to match the limits listed above will have to close their facilities. The new obligations specified in the Communicable Diseases Act with regard to health secure arrangements and the guidance of customers must be taken into account when using any of the facilities in question. Facilities where health security cannot be ensured may not be used.

Furthermore, premises designated for closure may still be used for guided leisure activities aimed at children born in 2008 and later. The closure decision does not apply to professional sports or activities that regarded as parts of private and family life.

The restriction is valid from 25 February to 14 March 2021. Decisions on the extension of the restriction will be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland. 

Enabling actual distancing at public premises, temporary section 58(d) of Communicable Diseases Act

Private and public operators are obliged to arrange the use of premises that are open to the public or intended for a limited group of customers or participants in such a way that the customers, activity participants and groups can feasibly avoid close contact. The decision applies to a wide range of private and public customer premises, with the exclusion of restaurants. If it is impossible to avoid contact, the customer premises can be completely closed by decision of the Regional State Administrative Agency or the municipality.

The restriction is valid from 25 February to 14 March 2021. Decisions on the extension of the restriction will be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland. 

Organising public events

All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors have been prohibited for a limited time. However, organising public events and meetings of a maximum of six participants will be allowed, provided that 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. Events with at most six persons should be limited to the indispensable minimum, such as statutory shareholders’ meetings and association meetings. Remote connections must be used also in these cases whenever possible.

These restrictions will remain in effect from 22 February to 14 March 2021. Decisions on the extension of the restriction will be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland. 

Organising private events

The coordination group continues to recommend that close contacts be limited 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 under any circumstances. Guests at a funeral or memorial service should still be restricted to only a small group of close relatives.

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Public premises

All public customer spaces will remain closed throughout March with the exception of the guided recreational activity time slots reserved for children born in 2008 or later. This includes all municipal cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. Contact teaching at the adult education centres has been suspended in favour of distance learning in November.

The facilities used for providing health care 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 have defined the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open to a limited extent and with due consideration to health and safety. Libraries will continue to offer limited services.

The coordination group continues to recommend that private operators similarly restrict the use of sports and leisure facilities. 

The restrictions and recommendations will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Recreational activities

The indoor and outdoor premises of the cities can only be used for guided recreational activities of children born in 2008 or later. All forms of activities for children and young people must be implemented without close contacts.

The restriction will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Education in upper comprehensive schools

Upper comprehensive schools transitioned to remote teaching on Monday 8 March 2021. Remote education will be continued until 28 March 2021. The decision also concerns pupils in the 10th grade.

Indispensable needs for contact teaching will continue to be met. The school premises to be closed can be used for the contact teaching of e.g. special-needs education, extended compulsory education and preparatory education pupils and other essential contact teaching.

The restriction is valid 8–28 March 2021.

Secondary education

Secondary education (upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions) will continue with distance learning arrangements. Indispensable needs for contact teaching will be met. For example, contact teaching will be provided to students with disabilities, students that are receiving special needs education and students who need individual support for various reasons.

The restriction is valid from 3 December 2020 to 28 March 2021.

Remote work

The coordination group still recommends employers to arrange all tasks remotely wherever possible, even temporarily. If remote work is impossible, the employer is recommended to instruct the employees to use face masks at all workspaces, even where it is possible to maintain safe distances. Workplace meals and coffee breaks must be staggered.

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021.

Face mask usage

Face mask usage is recommended for all persons above 12 in all indoor spaces outside their home.

The recommendation will remain valid until further notice.

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 will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.

Read more:

Coronavirus updates from Helsinki

Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group

Coronavirus COVID-19 – Latest Updates/THL

Photo: Kimmo Brandt