Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori (NCP) spoke in a press conference held by the coronavirus coordination group for the Finnish capital region in Helsinki on Friday, 20 November 2020. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


THE CORONAVIRUS COORDINATION GROUP for Greater Helsinki on Friday announced new restrictions, recommendations and other measures to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus in Uusimaa, the most populated region in Finland.

The most tangible restriction is the banning of all public events with over 20 attendees in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) between 23 November and 13 December.

The City of Helsinki said the restrictions put a stop to all team and contact sports activities organised for over 20-year-olds in city-run indoor facilities and all amateur-level matches, competitions and regional play-offs. Private service providers are asked to comply with the same restrictions and leisure clubs for adults to limit their activities to activities taking place within their own group.

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The restriction applies neither to individual or team sports at the national-team, national and first sub-division level, nor to professional athletes training for international competitions. Activities where the participants are able to avoid close contact with each other similarly need not be cancelled.

Public events such as concerts and sporting events held indoors will not be allowed to have more than 20 attendees between 23 November and 13 December, per a decision by HUS and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).

“This is a restriction, not a recommendation,” Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Mayor of Helsinki, was quoted as saying by Helsingin Sanomat.

Events organised in delimited outdoor spaces, by contrast, will be able to welcome more than 20 attendees as long as they comply with the hygiene and social distancing-related instructions of THL and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The measures were announced a day after the largest cities in the capital region were ruled to be in the spreading stage of the epidemic, the most serious of the stages defined by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Vapaavuori on Friday said in a news conference the measures will remain in effect indefinitely with the exception of the most heavy-handed ones.

The coordination group also recommended that people refrain from organising private events, such as holiday get-togethers, matriculation celebrations and family celebrations, with over 10 attendees.

The restrictions on the use of public spaces were supplemented by capping the maximum capacity of swimming pools to half of their usual full capacity and cutting down the number of seats in the study halls of public libraries.

Visitors of libraries, museums and other public places are advised to wear face masks and observe social distancing. Mask use is also recommended indoors for early-childhood education professionals who travel between various locations for work and pupils in years seven to nine of basic education.

The employees and pupils will be provided the masks by their municipality of employment or education, although they are both free to use their own masks.

Students in general upper-secondary education will alternate between remote and in-person instruction as of Monday, 23 November.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT