Fans watched Blossom perform at a live show in Liverpool, the UK, on 2 May. The show was organised without social distancing rules, although the roughly 5,000 attendees were required to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test, as part of a pilot programme exploring ways to organise shows in a post-pandemic world. (Paul Ellis – AFP/Lehtikuva)


THE MINISTRY of Social Affairs and Health has updated its recommendations for restricting the organisation of public and private events in Finland.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) stated yesterday in a news conference that the restrictions will be eased significantly with the exception of attendance limits in regions in the community transmission stage of the coronavirus epidemic.

Outdoor events held in such regions will be required to limit attendance to 50 and indoor events to 10, although larger outdoor events can be allowed if the attendees are separated into partitions and are able to observe social distancing. The rules on indoor events will be revisited as soon as early June, according to Kiuru.

The government, she added, will also look into the possibility of dividing different types of venues into categories based on the risk of transmission, as the risk of droplet transmission is significantly lower at events such as theatres where people sit quietly in their seats.

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Outdoors, though, the likelihood of contracting the virus is so low that the event restrictions can be eased also in regions in the community transmission stage.

“Also we in the government have racked our brain about whether we could already start opening indoor venues in a health safe way also in regions in the spreading stage. We posed this question to the directors of the five hospital districts in the spreading stage on Monday,” revealed Kiuru.

The answer, she added, was definite: it is premature to lift the restrictions on indoor events.

Sally Leskinen, the chief medical officer at Kanta-Häme Hospital District, reminded in the press conference that the Indian variant of the virus can spread quickly in spite of sound protective measures. A patient admitted to hospital roughly two-and-a-half weeks ago with what was initially believed not to be a coronavirus infection ended up transmitting the variant to 40 per cent of other patients in the ward.

“Nearly all of [the other patients] had received one vaccine dose; one of the deceased had already received two doses,” she told.

A total of 90 infections have been detected in the cluster that extends across hospitals in Forssa, Hämeenlinna and Riihimäki.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health believes it is no longer necessary to specifically restrict the attendance of events organised in other regions, that is regions either in the baseline or acceleration stage of the epidemic. Event organisers will nonetheless be required to ensure attendees are able to practise social distancing and good hand hygiene.

Organisers in regions in the acceleration stage will be required to submit a written plan for how attendees can avoid close contact.

Although Finland will continue to be divided into three types of regions – those in the baseline, acceleration and community transmission stage of the epidemic – the criteria for the stages will be adjusted slightly, according to Kiuru.

“The incidence rates will be calculated only for a 14-day period going forward, so that there aren’t so many different numerical figures,” she said.

The government is to make a formal decision on the recommendations on Thursday. The decisions on their implementation will be made by the State Regional Administrative Agencies (AVI).

Aleksi Teivainen – HT