The government emphasizes the need to react quickly and proactively to the worsening situation with regard to the pandemic.

Annika Saarikko, minister of science and culture. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

In its resolution adopted on October 23, the government outlines national and regional recommendations aiming to support regional measures to curb the spread of the pandemic and help get it under control.

The government emphasizes the need to react quickly and proactively to the worsening situation with regard to the pandemic. The recommendations set out in the resolution are based on the government’s proposals from October 15 and take into account the most recent assessment of the epidemiological situation.

The recommendations are intended for employers, educational institutions and authorities, such as municipalities, joint municipal authorities, hospital districts and regional authorities, which will implement them in their regions and inform the public about them at the regional level.

Recommendation to restrict group leisure activities

In the acceleration phase of the pandemic municipalities and joint municipal authorities may recommend suspending indoor group activities for adults (aged 18 or older) or holding them remotely if the activities present a high risk of transmission. An activity is considered high-risk if close contacts and the risk of droplet infection at close range cannot be avoided.

In the community transmission phase, municipalities and joint municipal authorities should consider tightening their restrictions so that group leisure activities, especially for adults, can be temporarily suspended or arranged remotely. When deciding to restrict group leisure activities, it is important to take into account the social, cultural and educational impacts of the restrictions on children, young people and population groups with limited functional capacity.

In the baseline, acceleration and community transmission phases of the pandemic, municipalities and joint municipal authorities may issue safety guidelines for group leisure activities similar to the guidelines for organizing public events.

Remote work recommendation for all workplaces

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recommend that public sector employees work remotely to the extent possible if their duties so allow. Remote work is also recommended for private sector employers, but the decision is up to the workplace.

Arrangements should be made to reduce close contacts and other risk factors at workplaces. The increase in remote work will also ease the situation of people who need to use public transport: transport will be less crowded if there are fewer people using it.

Public events and meetings may be restricted

If the pandemic reaches or is approaching the acceleration phase, the Regional State Administrative Agencies may assess the adequacy of the existing restrictions on all public events and meetings, regardless of the number of participants.

Regional State Administrative Agencies may also impose additional requirements concerning the number of customers and seats and other arrangements in spaces so that people can avoid close contacts. The number of participants at public indoor events may be limited to half the normal capacity. In the community transmission phase of the pandemic, the Regional State Administrative Agencies may limit the number of participants to a maximum of ten persons or prohibit the organization of events altogether.

Regional State Administrative Agencies make their decisions independently and according to their own discretion in line with the Act on Communicable Diseases and the above-mentioned recommendations. Municipalities and joint municipal authorities may also issue recommendations to residents on similar restrictions concerning private events and other meetings in the area.

Recommendations also apply to educational institutions

When it comes to universities, universities of applied sciences, general upper secondary education, vocational education, basic adult education in the arts, liberal adult education and basic adult education, the transition to distance learning should take place only if absolutely necessary based on a regional epidemiological assessment carried out by the health authorities.

In the acceleration phase of the pandemic, higher education institutions should seriously consider switching to distance learning.

In the community transmission phase, upper secondary schools, vocational institutions, liberal adult education institutions, educational institutions providing basic adult education and adult education in the arts, and higher education institutions may, at their discretion, switch to distance learning altogether.

Use of public spaces may also be restricted

In the acceleration and community transmission phases of the pandemic, municipalities and joint municipal authorities may issue municipal and regional recommendations on following safety guidelines in the use of public spaces similar to the guidelines for organizing public events.

In the acceleration phase, municipalities may recommend limiting the number of users of spaces to half the normal capacity, and in the community transmission phase, they may recommend discontinuing the use of the spaces altogether.

When restricting the use of public spaces, authorities must ensure that the measures do not restrict people’s right to access statutory services or to have their case heard by the competent authority, or prevent public officials from performing their official duties.