Last week the Helsinki Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group declared that the capital region had moved from the acceleration phase to the spreading phase in the coronavirus pandemic. To limit the spreading of the virus, the group imposed numerous restrictions related to hobbies, schools and public gatherings.

A man snapping a selfie in front of the Helsinki Cathedral at the deserted Senate Square that was a popular tourist magnet before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

On Monday, new restrictions related to the spreading phase of coronavirus will come into effect in Helsinki, Vantaa and Espoo and, according to a decision by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland, also in the whole Uusimaa region.

Here’s what’s going to change, beginning on November 23:

  • All city-run indoor team sports and contact sport activities for people over the age of 20 will be temporarily suspended for three weeks.
  • Amateur-level matches, competitions and regional play-offs will also be canceled during this time.
  • Private operators are asked to observe these same restrictions. It is also recommended that all leisure clubs for adults in the metropolitan area limit their activities to things that take place within their own groups.
  • The new restrictions will not apply to individual and group sport competitions on the national team, national and Division I levels, nor to professional athletes training for international competitions. It will also not apply to groups in which participants are able to maintain safe distances from others during activities.
  • Public events arranged indoors should be limited to 20 participants for the next three weeks.
  • Private events should be limited to a maximum of 10 people for the time being. The recommendation applies to upcoming graduation parties, family gatherings and holiday events.
  • The number of customers at swimming halls will be capped at 50% of capacity, meaning that half of the changing room lockers will be made off-limits. Places in public library study halls will also be reduced for the time being.
  • There will also be an increase in the use of staggered distance learning intervals at upper secondary schools (grades 10–12) in the metropolitan area for the time being.
  • The coordination group also recommends that everyone who is not working remotely use face masks at work in all of their encounters with others and when moving about their workplace. This recommendation applies to jobs in the public and private sectors.
  • Daycare center staff are encouraged to wear masks indoors whenever possible. Early childhood education employees who travel to several locations in their work, for example, daycare assistants, replacements, directors, trainees and interns are in particular asked to observe this mask recommendation.
  • A mask recommendation has also been issued for the area’s lower secondary schools (grades 7–9). The cities will provide masks for this purpose, but students are also free to use their own.
  • Municipalities in the capital city area will provide the necessary masks for their employees, which will be delivered to workplaces as soon as possible. Employees are also free to use their own face coverings. People with health issues that prohibit them from wearing a mask are exempt from this recommendation.

The restrictions are based on the decision by the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group, which includes the cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa (HUS) and the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.