Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP). Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

On Friday, the government published a plan to exit coronavirus restrictions. The plan gives a detailed overview on how, and in what order, the current restrictions will be eased.

The government has invited the public to comment on the plan. (The plan can be found here in Finnish.) Comments can be submitted here. (Service is in Finnish and Swedish. Registration required.)

“If we manage to keep the Covid-19 epidemic under control in April and May and vaccines are progressing steadily,” the government noted in a statement, “we may meet the requirements set for transitioning towards normal life in Finland in June and July.”

According to the government, dismantling of restrictive measures requires everyone to act responsibly and continue to follow the existing restrictions and recommendations.

April — state of emergency ends

  • The powers granted under the Emergency Powers Act will no longer apply.
  • Transition to contact teaching (comprehensive school education and upper secondary education).
  • Restaurants will open with certain restrictions; opening hours and the number of customers will still be restricted.

Older people have received their first dose of the vaccine.

May — strict restrictions lifted

  • Restrictions imposed due to the threat of fast acceleration of the epidemic will be removed; return to regional measures.
  • Children and young people may take part in outdoor group hobbies.
  • Public and private premises (incl. libraries and museums) will reopen.
  • Commuter traffic within the EU will be possible.
  • The aim is for libraries and museums to be largely open by May.

People in risk groups have received their first dose of the vaccine.

June — regional restrictions gradually lifted

  • Restrictions on gatherings will be eased.
  • Restrictions on restaurants’ customer seating and opening hours will be eased.
  • Adults may take part in outdoor group hobbies.
  • Public events will resume with restrictions on the number of participants.
  • Internal border control will end.

Vaccination coverage of working-age population having received their first dose of the vaccine is more than 50%.

July — vaccination coverage increases

  • Restrictions on gatherings will be eased and removed.
  • Restrictions on the number of participants in public events will be eased and removed.

Working-age population has received their first dose of the vaccine and older people and people in risk groups have received their second dose of the vaccine (July-August).

August — vaccination coverage increases

  • Commuter traffic to and from third countries will possibly resume.

Working-age population has received their first vaccine dose and older people and people in risk groups have received their second vaccine dose (July–August)

Lifting of restrictions to begin with activities for children and young people

In the government’s view, it is important for the lifting of restrictions to begin with groups that have been particularly affected by the restrictions. The first step will be to lift the restrictions affecting children and young people.

First public events could be held in June

The restrictions on public events would be lifted in three stages as outlined in the “safe events” model drawn up by a working group appointed by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

The goal is that the first public events could be held in many regions in June. In the first phase, public events could be organized in such a way that attendees have pre-assigned seats and that groups would be able to avoid close contact with others. In regions where the epidemic situation is very good, public events could be organized even earlier with the permission of regional authorities.

The aim is to transition to the second phase in July at the latest. During this phase, it would also be possible to organize larger public events so that the maximum number of attendees would be determined based on the size and characteristics of the space reserved for the event.

In the third phase, the restrictions would be lifted completely. The goal is to transition to this phase as soon as the pandemic permits.

Dismantling restrictions will support the recovery of businesses

The controlled lifting of restrictions and the target timetable will also help businesses recover from the Covid-19 crisis and plan their activities. The sectors most affected by the pandemic, such as restaurants, tourism and the events sector, may even recover quickly as society opens up.

Restrictions on entry into the country to be lifted

Entry into Finland has been restricted and border control has been reinstated at Finland’s internal and external borders since March 17, 2020. The current decisions will remain in force until April 30.

Internal border control will continue until it can be replaced with sufficient health security measures.

At the same time, the dismantling of restrictions on traffic will begin in reverse order. According to current estimates, the aim is to open up traffic in border communities, commuter traffic and the travel of families and relatives within the EU’s internal borders between May and June. Internal border control can be discontinued altogether once enough of the adult population has been vaccinated and the epidemiological situation is stable. The current estimate is that this could be the situation in June.

Commuting from third countries could be opened in the early autumn, and other travel from third countries could resume as the epidemiological situation eases. The opening up of traffic from third countries will take into account the EU’s recommendations and the common EU approach.

Preparations for the autumn must be made

At the end of August, the number of infections may begin to rise again gradually as contacts increase, particularly at educational institutions and workplaces. However, according to the government, we are unlikely to see a similar rapid acceleration to the one experienced in autumn 2020 if there is sufficient vaccination coverage among the adult population, especially young adults, and if people behave safely.