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Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Centre) spoke in a government press conference in Helsinki on Thursday, 15 October 2020. (Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva)

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THE GOVERNMENT of Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) on Thursday presented a toolkit of measures it is encouraging regional authorities to utilise in an attempt to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus in Finland.

The recommendations differ based on whether the region is in the acceleration or spreading phase of the epidemic.

While the government is expected make its in-principle decision on the recommendations next week, the decisions on whether or not they are adopted will be made by municipalities and regional authorities.

The government is recommending that authorities in regions where the epidemic is accelerating oblige the organisers of public events to limit attendance to half of usual and make sure attendees are able to follow instructions on hand hygiene and social distancing. Authorities in regions where the epidemic is spreading should prohibit public events altogether, if necessary.

Private events should be limited to 20 attendees in regions in the acceleration stage and 10 attendees in regions in the spreading stage.

The epidemic is presently deemed to be spreading in the Vaasa Hospital District and accelerating in Helsinki and Uusimaa, Kanta-Häme, Pirkanmaa, South Ostrobothnia, Southwest Finland and Åland Islands.

Public spaces such as libraries should cut their capacity in half and ensure visitors are able to observe social distancing in regions in the acceleration stage and close their doors completely in regions in the spreading stage, if necessary. Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Centre) added in a news conference, however, that it would make sense for libraries to remain open in a controlled fashion.

Hobby activities that pose a high risk of transmission, such as team sports that involve physical proximity and contact, should be halted in regions in the acceleration stage, according to the government. Authorities in regions where the epidemic is spreading are encouraged to suspend hobbies completely, if necessary, but also to use special discretion for children and young people.

The government is also urging all employees to work remotely to the extent possible. The recommendation applies to people employed in public administration but also to people employed in the private sector, according to Minister of Local Government Sirpa Paatero (SDP).

A national remote work recommendation will be in effect until 31 December 2020.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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