Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) spoke to reporters in the Parliament House in Helsinki on 23 June 2021. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)

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MINISTER of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) on Friday stated on YLE TV1 that the government is intent on introducing restrictions on restaurant operations in areas in the acceleration stage of the coronavirus epidemic on Thursday, 22 July.

Restaurants in Kymenlaakso, Päijät-Häme and Southwest Finland would thus be required to stop serving alcohol by midnight and close their doors by 1am.

The same restrictions on opening and serving hours are presently in force in Uusimaa.

Kiuru stated to the public broadcasting company that the restrictions are necessitated by the worsening epidemiological situation in Finland. The number of laboratory-confirmed infections has tripled in the last month, with the weekly number of infections soaring to over 1,600. Almost 50 people are currently in hospital care with symptoms caused by the coronavirus disease, Covid-19.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, she said, asked hospital districts in the acceleration stage to draft reports on the epidemiological situation and their outlook for it on Friday. The reports are due on Tuesday.

Decisions on other restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus are made by the Regional State Administrative Agencies (AVI).

“We’re moving in a troubling direction. We have a race of sorts underway. The vaccination coverage is rising, but the delta variant is spreading more and more aggressively,” characterised Kiuru.

What Kymenlaakso, Päijät-Häme and Southwest Finland have in common, she said, is some of the infections have been brought from abroad and people have neglected to follow the official instructions to, for example, get tested upon arrival. She pointed out that the recent outbreaks cannot be blamed completely on fans who attended UEFA Euro 2020 in Russia.

“We’re talking about infections from abroad that have come here also with foreign workers and holiday-making Finns. Keeping Finland open is our responsibility, and now it’s everyone’s personal responsibility to make sure the general instructions are followed,” said Kiuru.

“We’ll soon be close to the situation we had last October.”

Kiuru also called attention to the importance of vaccinations in the face of reports that many are postponing the second injection. Almost two-thirds (63.1%) of the population have received the first and over a quarter (25.7%) also the second vaccine injection.

“Making progress with the vaccination coverage is absolutely key. Our duty is to make sure everyone gets vaccinated,” she said. “You’d certainly hope that people picked up the second vaccine. We’re still in a vulnerable position in the face of the delta variant. You don’t get full protection against it until after the second vaccine.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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