Festival-goers outside Turku Castle on 6 August 2021. (Roni Lehti – Lehtikuva)


HEIKKI MÄKI, the head of the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for South-west Finland, has levelled criticism at the guidelines for relaxing restrictions in the events industry published last week by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

The guidelines encourage regional authorities to allow the organisation of health-safe events without the present requirements for a two-metre safe distance and segmentation of the attendees.

Mäki on Friday expressed his bafflement at the notion that authorities are capable of evaluating the health safety of the various types of events organised at various venues found across the country.

“We have six regional state administrative agencies, numerous different events and happenings, public meetings in various venues, dozens of cinemas and so on. No regional state administrative agency has the capacity to assess, for instance, the ventilation or access routes of different venues. My own estimate is that this will become impossible,” he stated to Helsingin Sanomat.

Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen (Centre) had already voiced his delight about the abolition of the guidelines on safe distancing and segmentation.

“It’s very questionable communication from a minister to rejoice about the restrictions being abolished. We’re bound by official responsibility when we make our decisions, and they’re based on, among others, the epidemiological assessments we receive from hospital districts,” underlined Mäki.

The South-west Finland Hospital District, he highlighted, recently ruled that it remains necessary to invoke sections of the communicable diseases act on safe distances and segmentation. Although the sections technically enable authorities to approach various venues differently, it is hard to carry out in practice.

“We’d be faced with questions like is a 10-person conference room with good ventilation or a bus with anti-viral equipment a venue that poses no risks. What about the Fair Center, which has a ridiculous number of square metres. To have officials weigh up things like these is insane,” he said.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT