Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) briefing the media before the government’s meeting on coronavirus restrictions at the House of States in Helsinki on November 10, 2021. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/FinlandToday

In its meeting on Wednesday, the government discussed the coronavirus situation and decided to implement the revised hybrid strategy to mitigate the pandemic.

Restrictions on restaurants were originally scheduled to end next Monday, but according to the revised plan, the limitations on opening hours, alcohol serving and seats will continue. The coronavirus passport was also on the agenda. “The government wants to expand the use of coronavirus passport,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) said to the media before the meeting at the House of the Estates on Wednesday.

The pandemic situation, according to the latest assessment received by the government, has deteriorated in many regions. This “means that further measures are needed to reduce the number of infections,” the government noted in a statement. Even as the national target of 80% vaccination coverage was reached on Wednesday, “that alone is not enough to set the development of the pandemic on a downward course.”

The guiding principle for the new strategy is that society should remain open. The strategy stresses the importance of local and targeted measures in combating the pandemic. It will guide the regions in monitoring the development of the pandemic and in deciding on the recommendations and restrictions needed to curb it.

Prime Minister Marin said that it’s likely that people who have not been vaccinated and working in the social and health care sector “are going to be weeded out by hand.”

The restrictions on restaurants are likely to remain unchanged. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/FinlandToday

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is going to scrap the phase-based system when evaluating the need for coronavirus restrictions in different regions. Instead, the ministry aims to provide tools for municipalities suited for assessing the need for restrictions.

The government also adopted principles for introducing a new emergency brake mechanism. The emergency brake mechanism would be introduced if the the pandemic would deteriorate unexpectedly and could not be controlled through regional restrictions. Basically, the emergency brake would enable the authorities to impose harder national restrictions quickly. The exact details of the mechanism will be revealed later.

The government proposes that the temporary provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act be extended until the end of June 2022. The provisions include, for example, coronavirus passports, health-secure entry into the country, the Koronavilkku mobile application, restrictions at premises, and activities to prevent the spread of infections.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will also examine the possibility of preparing a temporary amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act concerning the vaccination of healthcare and social welfare employees and students in on-the-job training to protect patients and clients. Prime Minister Marin said that it’s likely that people who have not been vaccinated and working in the social and health care sector “are going to be weeded out by hand.” “All measures to increase the vaccine rate have to be used,” Marin said.

At the same time, the government is exploring the possibility of using the passport at workplaces.

“The matter,” according to the government, “will be prepared without delay in cooperation between the ministries.”

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