The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) is recommending that people continue to wear masks especially on public transport, given the expected rise in passengers as people start returning to the workplace in large numbers. (Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva)


THE FINNISH INSTITUTE for Health and Welfare (THL) on Thursday revealed it has amended its recommendation for the use of face masks, effectively saying people should use their own judgement in regards to mask use.

“The core message in the recommendation is that mask use is recommended in indoor spaces where many people are close to one another,” summarised Otto Helve, a chief physician at THL.

Using a face mask is recommended especially for people who have yet to be fully vaccinated against the new coronavirus and on public transport given the surge in passengers expected following the lifting of the national remote-work recommendation on 15 October.

Helve on Thursday said in a press release the main change is that the recommendation will no longer be dependent on the outgoing epidemiological stages, but rather on the circumstantial discretion of people. The Finnish government decided last month to do away with the three-tiered classification scheme for regional epidemiological situations and related recommendations.

THL earlier this autumn published a table for assessing potential risks at different events. The table can serve as a supplementary tool when deciding on whether or not to wear a mask, according to Helve.

“The recommendation is that you should always wear a mask when attending events with substantial risk,” he noted.

Large concerts, accommodation facilities shared by co-workers, and the indoor facilities of bars and nightclubs are defined as settings with a substantial risk of transmission. Although the updated recommendation is targeted at people aged 12 years or older, it does not broach on the use of masks at schools.

Employers can issue their own recommendations for the workplace and event organisers for their facilities. Regional authorities, in turn, can issue recommendations based on the epidemiological situation.

The recommendation concerns neither health and social care, teaching and early-childhood education, nor workplaces with special instructions.

It will remain in effect until and reviewed after the vaccination coverage reaches the target of 80 per cent. Slightly more than 70 of the population had received both vaccine injections by Thursday, according to THL.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT