Students in overalls lined up to enter Maxine, a nightclub at Narinkkatori Square in Helsinki, on 14 October 2021. (Teemu Salonen – Lehtikuva)

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JARI PETÄJÄ, the acting chief medical officer at the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS), views that restaurant restrictions are the most effective way to reach unvaccinated segments of the population.

“For us to have as few restrictions as possible, every single restrictions must be as effective as possible,” he outlined in an interview on YLE A-studio on Thursday.

“Common sense tells that you should start with things that affect a very large amount of risky behaviour,” he said, highlighting that people are spending plenty of time in restaurants. “Uusimaa has roughly 685,000 places with an alcohol licence. Finland has 3.2 million restaurant chairs – and those are in use at a fairly high rate every weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people are getting together.”

Petäjä told the public broadcasting company that he is puzzled by statements that question the effects of restaurant restrictions, particularly as determining the source of each infection is increasingly difficult due to the scaling down of testing.

“One has to think that the restrictions should start with [activities] that happen a lot, often, everywhere and that are obviously harmful when it comes to the coronavirus spreading.”

He also expressed his support for extending the scope of application of the coronavirus pass beyond restaurants, predicting that the pass could remain in use for an extended period of time.

“Only about 150,000 Finns have had the coronavirus disease confirmed by laboratory tests. There are still 1.2 million unvaccinated people. We’ve yet to see most of the infections that’ll lead to hospitalisations. This effort will continue for a very long time,” said Petäjä.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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