Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) talked to the media in conjunction with the summer meeting of the Social Democrats in Helsinki on 18 August 2021. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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THE RULING COALITION of Finland has agreed to do away with the definition of a two-metre safe distance in the act on communicable diseases, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) announced on Twitter on Monday.

Marin said the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is drafting the amendment with a view to presenting it to lawmakers as soon as possible.

The question, she revealed, was discussed by the chairpersons of the five ruling parties on Monday. It will today be discussed by the ministerial working group on social affairs and health under the leadership of Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP). The government, in turn, is scheduled to discuss the question in its entirety on Thursday.

The ministerial working group convening today will also discuss a new action plan linked to the coronavirus strategy and the amendments required to the act on communicable diseases, as well as the so-called coronavirus pass.

Helsingin Sanomat on Monday wrote that Kiuru confirmed the agenda but declined to comment on what she described as an ongoing political process.

Pressure on the government to devise a more detailed roadmap for scrapping the restrictions on business and social life ratcheted up last week, after the present restrictions were upheld – despite instructions from the government – by the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health had instructed the authority to allow attendance of up to 75 per cent of full capacity at theatre plays and other low-risk events and, as a result, to effectively scrap the requirement of a safe distance of two metres.

AVI for Southern Finland, however, decided after taking into account several expert views that the requirement should not be scrapped, although it added that doing so could become a possibility as soon as next week provided that the epidemiological situation improves.

The Finnish government has announced its readiness to do away with widespread restrictions once vaccine uptake has reached 80–90 per cent.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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