The police are concerned about the upcoming May Day and the impact of the warmer weather on the celebrations. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, public mass gatherings and events are forbidden.

A view over Havis Amanda sculpture at the Market Square in Helsinki on April 30, 2020. Traditionally, the sculpture is crowned with a student cap while thousands observe the historical ritual. This year, the statue is surrounded by fences and observed by security guards. She will, however, be crowned online. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

“In particular adolescents have started to gather in larger groups around the country,” the police say in a statement. Therefore, the police will be monitoring the restrictions regarding gatherings and food and beverage service establishments in a visible manner on May Day.

The law enforcement expect each individual to behave “responsibly unprompted.” The police urge adults to monitor what children and young people are doing and, if necessary, instruct them on how important it is to avoid close contact.

If the police detect prohibited events or meetings, they will be primarily terminated with the help of advice, recommendations and orders.

“We want to emphasize the importance of self-restraint and the responsibility to stay at home and celebrate May Day in manner that does not create close contacts, mass movements or ‘super spreaders’ anywhere,” says Chief Superintendent Konsta Arvelin from the National Police Board. “Now is not the time to gather in large groups for May Day picnics or spend time in large groups. There will be more celebrations later—for now, we ask everyone to follow the instructions and restrictions so that we can go back to our daily lives as soon as possible.”

Minimum physical contact

Along with all other authorities, the police emphasize that all physical contacts should be kept at a minimum even if they are not directly forbidden by law.

In terms of May Day, the restriction on public gatherings applies to public meetings and events with more than 10 people as referred to in the Assembly Act. In addition, the police will separately assess public meetings and events with no more than 10 people if they cause an immediate danger to public health and safety.

As a general rule, the following is forbidden on May Day:

  •                 Demonstrations of more than 10 people.
  •                 Processions of more than 10 people.
  •                 May Day parades of more than 10 people.
  •                 Other public events of more than 10 people (public amusements, contests, performances and other comparable events that are not considered as public meetings).
  •                 Public meetings and events of no more than 10 people if the organization of the gathering causes an immediate danger to public health and safety.
  •                 In addition, it is forbidden to organize events that gather people, i.e. events with more than 10 people, which have been forbidden by Regional State Administrative Agencies.
  •                 Events and gatherings arranged in a public place are forbidden. Justifiably, all established May Day traditions may be considered as such in so far as they are categorized as public meetings, public events, or events that gather people, for example, the traditional festivities at the Havis Amanda statue in Helsinki.

If the police detect prohibited events or meetings, they will be primarily terminated with the help of advice, recommendations and orders.

When planning for May Day, the police will collaborate with other authorities, municipalities and cities in their area. Cities and municipalities have the possibility to restrict the use of traditional May Day areas or make various changes in traffic arrangements during May Day. The police will do its part to make sure these restrictions are obeyed.

No unnecessary dwelling in public

The Finnish government has also recommended to avoid spending time unnecessarily in public areas.

“If the police meet groups celebrating May Day, they will be primarily instructed to leave the area if the celebration endangers the public order and safety. Of course, we hope that people will obey the provided instructions and restrictions for the sake of themselves, their loved ones and the entire society, and that the police do not need to intervene in any kind of gatherings,” Arvelin says.

“We are now all working for the same goal, which is to stop the spreading of the virus and protect risk groups. The consequences for irresponsible behavior might have a long-term impact.”