Players at a hall.

Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends new restrictions – urgent action expected from government as well

The coronavirus situation has rapidly deteriorated throughout the country and the omicron variant has become the dominant variant for coronavirus infections in the metropolitan area within a short period of time. Due to the severe epidemic situation, the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland stricter restrictions on public events and space restrictions in accordance with section 58g of the Communicable Diseases Act.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland to close the following premises:

  • indoor sports facilities
  • public saunas, spas, swimming halls
  • dance venues and facilities for choral singing, amateur theatre or other premises for similar group activities
  • amusement and theme parks, fairs (circuses) and indoor facilities of zoos
  • indoor playparks and similar premises
  • public facilities in shopping centres.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group’s decision-making is based on the principle of “children and young people first”. The group therefore recommends that the new recommendations should not apply to people under 18.

In proposing the closure of premises, it is considered necessary for the government to simultaneously tighten restrictions on at least restaurants and remove the possibility of exemption from restrictions through the COVID-19 passport.

Government must outline possible broader restrictive measures at national level

In view of the deteriorating situation, the government is considering the introduction of an “emergency brake mechanism”. The emergency brake mechanism would mean a shift back to national control of more extensive restrictive measures, within the framework of existing legislation.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group believes that such restrictions, which would affect society in a very broad sense and in some cases even resemble a state of lockdown, should primarily be defined at national level. Therefore, it is the government that must take any necessary decisions as a matter of urgency.

The necessity and proportionality of the restrictions and their impact on economic, social and cultural rights require a comprehensive assessment, for which the government is best placed. In particular, proportionality requires an assessment of where to target the restrictions and which measures are most effective and therefore have the highest priority.

Extending the mask recommendation to 3rd–5th graders – limiting the number of participants in indoor public events to 10 people

The use of face masks during the school day will be extended to grades 3–5 from the start of the spring term on 10 January 2022. The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group also agreed that schools will start the spring term as normal with contact teaching. This applies to both comprehensive and secondary education. There will be a break of almost three weeks from school due to the Christmas holidays. The decision has been made in line with the principle of “children and young people first”. If necessary, the situation will be reassessed closer to the start of the term.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group recommends to the Regional State Administrative Agency to continue the restrictions on public meetings after 1 January 2022. At the same time, the group recommends limiting the number of participants in indoor public events to 10.

It is recommended to avoid private events and to limit meetings to your immediate family.

The general recommendations on remote work and the use of face masks will continue until 16 January 2022.

Targeting of coronavirus testing does not need to be changed in the Metropolitan Area

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group considers it important to ensure access to testing for those whose identification and infection tracking is most important in terms of their treatment and the prevention of further infection.

People over the age of 12 should seek testing if they are immunocompromised, belong to an at-risk group, work in social and health care or have been exposed to the coronavirus. For others, it is recommended to take a home test and stay at home until symptoms have eased.

As a general rule, children under 12 years of age are only tested if they have symptoms and are known to have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the previous two weeks.

Infection tracking will continue to be prioritised for only those sites that are assessed to be effective.

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Coronavirus updates from Helsinki

Foto: Maarit Hohteri