Finland will impose new sanitary restrictions starting next week, in a new attempt to curb the escalation of Covid-19 infections, especially in the Helsinki-Uusimaa region.
From 20 August, in the most affected municipalities of the metropolitan area (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen), indoor events with more than 25 people will not be able to be held, nor outdoor events with more than 50 attendees.
The decision is almost equivalent to a de facto ban on typically summer activities, like music festivals and other cultural events, as well as children's hobbies.
The decision, adopted on August 12 by the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) for Southern Finland, has drawn strong criticism. Many Finns argued on social media that it should have been taken and announced by the central government because it involves restrictions on fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly.
Finland has maintained one of the lowest infection rates in Europe throughout the pandemic. However, the number of Covid-19 cases has been sharply increasing in recent weeks.
On Friday, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) reported 926 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours and on Thursday a record of 1,024 new infections was reached in a single day.
Meanwhile, the Nordic country of 5.5 million people is lagging behind with its vaccination campaign.
Currently only 40% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to THL. The causes are the reluctance of a part of the population to be vaccinated and especially the long interval between two doses - two, sometimes three months - decided by the Finnish health authorities, compared to 3 weeks recommended by the manufacturers of the vaccines.
The country's health authorities continue to call citizens to get vaccinated and emphasize that this is the best strategy right now to stop the spread of the epidemic.