Saturday 1/16/21

Helsinki further limits social contacts, students to remote learning

The health authorities in the capital area announced new restrictions in a new attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori. Image: screenshot from press conference live broadcast by City of Helsinki.
Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori. Image: screenshot from press conference live broadcast by City of Helsinki.

The coronavirus is spreading at an "alarming" rate, according to the term used by Finnish public authorities.

And it is worrying, above all, the speed with which infections are increasing in Helsinki and its metropolitan area, where the majority of new cases are diagnosed. For this reason, the authorities in the area have just imposed new restrictions and recommendations for the next weeks, in a new attempt to reverse the curve of infections.

At its meeting on Thursday, the Helsinki-Uusimaa regional epidemic coordination group outlined some new guidelines to be implemented "quickly." The mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori, led a press conference on Friday to announce the decisions, which affect the three big cities of Uusimaa (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa) and also the municipality of Kauniainen, which are currently the most affected by the epidemic.

According to the city of Helsinki, the coordinating group has concluded that most infections occur in homes, in the family environment and in close social contacts. With this in mind, the action of the authorities is aimed at cutting off social contacts and group activities.

Secondary education

Secondary education (high schools, vocational schools) will move to distance learning.

Face-to-face teaching will be offered to some students, for example to those with special needs and disabilities, as well as to pupils who need individual support.

This restriction will be introduced on 3 December and will apply until 31 December 2020.

Hobbies, sports suspended

All indoor hobbies and amateur sport activities (including basic arts education) in public premises will be discontinued. And all outdoor hobbies and sports for people over the age of 20 will also be suspended.

Activities for those under the age of 20 may continue outdoors, according to the previously stated calendar. But future competitions, matches or series should not be organized.

In schools, physical education classes will be held outdoors and on school premises, not in other exercise facilities.

The restrictions will be in effect from Monday 30 November to 20 December. 

The coordination group recommends that private operators apply the same restrictions, although for now this is not mandatory.

Public gatherings banned

All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors will be banned for a limited time.

However, some meetings with a maximum of 10 participants are permitted, provided that safety can be ensured. Only absolutely necessary meetings of a maximum of 10 participants should be held. These include the statutory meetings of housing companies and associations. Even in these cases, the authorities recommend to use remote connections whenever possible.

These restrictions will take effect since Monday 30 November until 18 December.

Private gatherings limited

The coordination group recommends that private gatherings and contacts should be limited to close relatives living in the same household. No other private meetings or family reunions are recommended.

It is also recommended that attendance at funerals or commemorations be limited to a very small number of family members.

These restrictions apply since Monday 30 November until 20 December.

Libraries, schools, public spaces

All customer spaces open to the public will be closed. This includes all indoor sports facilities, cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. The operations of adult education centres will be cancelled.

Libraries will offer limited services, such as picking up materials from the reservation shelves and use of the self-service machines, essential and quick use of the customer computers. Wearing a face cover is mandatory when using the library services.

Facilities for essential services like social and health services, early childhood education, basic education and basic secondary education will be kept open

These restrictions apply since Monday 30 November until 20 December.