The recommendations concerning face mask use and remote working will be continued in the entire Helsinki metropolitan area until 13 February 2022. The coronavirus coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland that supervised recreational activities for children and young people should continue in accordance with the previous guidelines.
There are currently more infections in the metropolitan area than ever before during the epidemic and the carrying capacity of social and health care is under threat.
As the nature of the coronavirus epidemic changes, it is necessary to develop a new national strategy for managing the epidemic. The most important thing is to take care of the coverage of vaccination protection, the carrying capacity of social and health care and the implementation of the principle of “children and young people first”.
The coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency that supervised recreational activities for children and young people in the metropolitan area may continue for those born in 2003 and after, despite extensive closures of indoor sports facilities.
The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group’s decision-making is based on the principle of “children and young people first”. This means that restrictive measures in regard to children and young people are to be avoided and will only be used as a last resort, if absolutely necessary. The coordination group always evaluates the restrictive measures from the perspective of the best interests of the child and their priority. According to epidemiological assessments of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, there is currently no need to change the previous recommendation regarding recreational activities for children and young people.
With children, the coronavirus very rarely causes severe symptoms or the need for hospitalization, and restrictions regarding children would, therefore, be primarily intended to protect adults.
Recreational facilities for children and young people are still subject to the obligations under section 58d of the Communicable Diseases Act, in which case the operators in charge of the facilities must adapt their activities to prevent the risk of infection from close contacts. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area also has health safety guidelines in force for organizers of recreational activities. For example, a recreational group should meet in the same configuration, contacts with other hobby groups should be avoided, as well as unnecessary physical contact in recreational activities in general. Possible participants are to be placed at a sufficient distance from each other and that arrangements are to be made to keep the area as spacious as possible.
However, the coordination group recommends that all indoor recreational activities for adults be suspended until 31 January 2022. In the premises closed by the Regional State Administrative Agency, the participation of adults in various family activities is not permitted and it is recommended to be suspended in all other respects.
It is recommended that activities covered by non-formal adult education, such as education centres, be organized as remote learning until the end of January.
In comprehensive and upper secondary education, contact teaching will continue and every effort will be made to secure the conditions for continuing contact teaching with all available means. Basic adult education can also be arranged as contact teaching.
National guidelines and instructions are expected for school-related testing and FFP2 masks.
The extensive remote working and face mask recommendation will continue in the metropolitan area until 13 February
At its meeting, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group outlined the continuation of the remote working and face mask recommendation. The coordination group considers that the recommendation regarding both remote working and face mask use is justified to continue throughout the metropolitan area until 13 February.
In addition, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group continues to recommend the avoidance of private events and restricting meetings to those close to you.
Infection tracing and isolation and quarantine have changed
Cities in the metropolitan area have outlined new testing guidelines for reallocating infection tracing. The testing capacity in health care is very busy and it takes several days to access the tests.
A person with mild symptoms should not seek a laboratory test if he or she does not belong to a risk group for coronavirus or does not work in a health care, care institution or housing unit for risk groups. If you wish, you can also take a quick test at home. If you receive a positive result in a quick test, you do not need to confirm it with a laboratory test.
If a quick test or laboratory test is positive, please report the infection to people living in the same household or with whom you have had similar close contact. Infection begins two days before the onset of symptoms. Ask those who have been exposed to avoid unnecessary contact for at least five days, use a face mask when dealing with others, and follow good hand hygiene. Additional instructions for those infected and exposed will be updated on municipality websites.
For those displaying even mild symptoms, staying home and informing your own close contacts about the possibility of exposure is more important than ever. If necessary, sick leave can be applied for in accordance with normal workplace sick leave practices.
Seek a COVID-19 test only if you have symptoms and symptoms that are distinctive of coronavirus and
- you are at risk of severe coronavirus disease
- you are pregnant
- you are over 18 years of age, have not received a COVID-19 vaccination and have not previously been diagnosed with a COVID-19 infection
- you are a social and health care professional and work in direct client and patient work
- you work in care or disability services
- a healthcare professional has instructed you to take a test
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 also follows the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.
Photo: Paavo Jantunen