People lined up outside a cinema in Helsinki on 13 October 2021. The Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland has announced restrictions that, for example, will shut down cinemas in Uusimaa. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


THE REGIONAL State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland on Thursday decided to resort to strict restrictions in an attempt to contain the spread of the new coronavirus in Uusimaa, the most populous region in Finland.

Indoor public events in the region will be prohibited for the three weeks between 28 December and 17 January. Customer and common facilities, in turn, will be shut down for two weeks as of 28 December.

The restrictions cannot be avoided by using the coronavirus passport.

The decision will, for example, shut down cinemas in the capital region. Hannele Wolf-Mannila, the director of sales at Finnkino, confirmed to YLE on Thursday that the cinema chain will close all of its cinemas in the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS).

“Practically this means that cinemas have to be shut down. Screenings will have to be stopped on 28 December,” she said to the public broadcasting company.

“This throws all our plans in flux. Christmas time is the year’s most important season for cinemas, and now it won’t happen. It’ll naturally have big effects on all cinemas and film distributors also financially.”

The decision was made under section 58g of the communicable diseases act, which applies to a range of sports and exercise facilities, including gyms and facilities intended for team sports, contact sports, group exercise and other similar physical activity. Also public spas, saunas, swimming pools, dance studios, amateur theatres, choir rehearsal venues, indoor playing grounds and the common spaces of shopping centres will be shuttered.

Libraries and museums will contrastively remain open.

The aforementioned facilities can, however, be used for organised activities of children and young people born in 2004 or later. The restrictions also do not apply to professional sports or activities that fall within the purview of private or family life.

AVI for Southern Finland argued that the restrictions are justified due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation in Uusimaa. The situation is already a threat to the regional health care capacity, according to HUS.

The restrictions should both help to slow down the spread of the epidemic and provide additional time to increase vaccine uptake, the regional agency gauged.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT