Krista Kiuru (the SDP), the minister of family affairs and social services, and Sanna Marin (the SDP), the prime minister, speaking about the three tiers on a press conference on Monday. Photograph:

On Monday, the government decided to supplement the action plan by implementing the hybrid strategy to combat Covid-19. The government will adopt a resolution on the matter tomorrow.

In line with the decision, the action plan will be supplemented with three new sets of measures aimed at combating the acceleration of the coronavirus pandemic and, in particular, at curbing the spread of the more infectious virus variant in Finland.

Three tiers

Tier 1: All measures for the community transmission phase must be implemented in full in areas where the epidemic is in the community transmission phase. The restrictive measures in force must remain at least at their current level until an assessment can be carried out concerning the spread of the new virus variant and the effectiveness of the measures taken to prevent it.

Tier 2: The recommendations and guidelines for the community transmission phase will be introduced based on the threat of the rapid acceleration of the epidemic or the spread of the new virus variant. The goal is to achieve a strong, rapid reduction in contacts throughout the country. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will guide regions in implementing the measures based on a statement from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The measures will be introduced in the event that the spread of the new virus variant increases in a certain region and to such an extent that immediate action is required. 

In tier 2, additional measures may also be introduced at the national or regional level, such as lowering the maximum number of persons permitted at gatherings. The most extensive remote work recommendation and a mask recommendation may also be introduced throughout the country.

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Other measures under the communicable diseases legislation should be decided on before placing restrictions on children and young people (for example, suspending group hobbies).

The upper grades of comprehensive school may switch to distance learning. However, this should be a last-resort measure.

The Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare will specify the criteria for group hobbies that must be suspended in tier 2. At the same time, proactive measures must be taken to support children and young people in order to minimize the harmful effects of the restrictions on their functional capacity and wellbeing.

The transition to tier 2 requires separate approval from the government.

Tier 3: A state of emergency will be declared and restrictions on movement will be introduced in addition to the above-mentioned measures. This is an extreme measure that can be justified only if all of the previous measures have proved insufficient and it can be demonstrated that the epidemic situation poses an immediate threat to the carrying capacity of the healthcare system, or if it is absolutely necessary in order to safeguard the lives or health of the population.

The government bases its decisions on a report by a working group led by Permanent Secretary Martti Hetemäki.

The working group focuses on an exit strategy and reconstruction strategy related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year they constructed a report titled “Impact of the coronavirus crisis and plan for a hybrid strategy to manage the epidemic.” It’s an 80-page plan published in Finnish only.

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