The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has decided to impose a number of new restrictions including closing private gyms, public saunas and spas.

Spas and public saunas will close for two weeks to limit the spreading of coronavirus variants in the capital region. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

Next Monday, private gyms, team sports facilities, spas, public saunas, dance venues, amusement and theme parks, children’s indoor playgrounds, and the public lounge areas of shopping centers will be closed for two weeks in the capital region. The restrictions were laid out by the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group on Thursday. The restrictions are in effect between March 1 and 14 in the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen.

The new restrictions are imposed because of the rapid spreading of coronavirus variants in the capital region.

For this reason also, the government is going to declare a state of emergency in Finland, which in turn is going to allow restaurants to be closed in many parts of the country for three weeks between March 8 and 28.

Public spaces

The facilities used for providing health care and social services, early childhood education, comprehensive education and essential upper secondary education will remain open.

Services such as the essential use of customer computers in libraries and the distribution of face masks to those in need will continue.

The cities have defined the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open to a limited extent and with due consideration to health and safety.

Private operators

Private and public operators are obliged to arrange the use of premises that are open to the public or intended for a limited group of customers or participants so that the customers, activity participants and groups can avoid close contact.

Each operator may fulfill its obligations by restricting the number of customers, by rearranging the customer seats or facilities, or in another manner that considers the special characteristics of the operations.

The decision applies to a wide range of private and public customer premises, with the exclusion of restaurants.

If it is impossible to avoid contact, the entire customer premises can be completely closed by the decision of the Regional State Administrative Agency or the municipality.

Public events

All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors have been prohibited for a limited time.

However, organizing public events and meetings of a maximum of six participants will be allowed, provided that safety can be ensured based on the instructions given by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on September 21, 2020.

Events with at most six persons should be limited to minima, such as statutory shareholders’ meetings and association meetings. Remote connections must be preferred.

The restrictions will be valid between February 22 and March 14, 2021. The decision was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.

Recreational activities

The indoor and outdoor premises of the cities can only be used for guided recreational activities of children aged 12 or less. All forms of activities for children and young people must be implemented without close contact.

The restriction will be valid until March 31, 2021.

Upper secondary education

Secondary education (upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions) will continue with distance learning arrangements. Indispensable needs for contact teaching will be met. For example, contact teaching will be provided to students with disabilities, students that are receiving special needs education and students who need individual support for various reasons.

Distance learning began at the start of the new evaluation period on December 3, 2020, and will continue until March 7, 2021.

Remote work

The coordination group still recommends employers to arrange all tasks remotely wherever possible. If remote work is impossible, the employer is recommended to instruct the employees to use face masks at all workspaces, even where it is possible to maintain safe distances. Workplace meals and coffee breaks must be staggered.

The recommendation will be valid until March 31, 2021.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group decided on the new restrictions in its meeting on February 25.

The final decision is carried out by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.

The restrictions are based on the implementation of temporary section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act.