Schools, universities, museums and libraries closed
Finnish Government gathered on Monday in Helsinki to discuss further measures to tackle coronavirus epidemic. After a meeting of more than four hours, the Prime Minister Sanna Marin headed a press conference with other ministers at the Palace of the Government.
The Government decided to take further restrictive measures to curb the coronavirus epidemic.
Here are the steps taken on Monday, announced by the Prime Minister and released in the Government's bulletin. They are in force until 13 April. Its purpose, according to Helsinki authorities, is to protect the population and to safeguard the functioning of society and the economy.
- The early childhood units and their pre-school education remain open. This will ensure access to early childhood education for staff in critical sectors of society and enable parents to work. The government outlines that parents and guardians who are able to arrange childcare at home to do so.
- The premises of schools, colleges, universities and polytechnics as well as civic colleges and other free education facilities will be closed. Exceptionally, however, there are pre-school education and basic classes for grades 1-3 of primary education for parents of children working in critical areas to society. In addition, there is an exception for basic education for pupils with special needs who need it, but this is done by parents and guardians who can provide childcare at home. The above arrangements will enter into force on 18 March.
- Instead of presence teaching, the teaching and guidance of all universities and polytechnics are organized in as wide a variety of alternative ways as possible, including distance learning, various digital learning environments and solutions, and where appropriate independent study.
- The high school examinations will be conducted in a concise timetable published 23 March, taking into account the regulations issued by the health authorities.
- Municipal museums, theaters, National Opera, cultural houses, libraries, mobile libraries, National Archives, customer and research hall services, recreational facilities and venues, swimming pools and other sports facilities, youth facilities, club rooms, NGO meeting rooms, daycare for the elderly, rehabilitation activities will be closed. Private and third sector and religious communities are recommended to do the same.
- Visits to housing units for the elderly and other at-risk groups are prohibited.
- Outside visits to hospitals, health care units and hospitals are prohibited except on a case-by-case basis for critically ill relatives, relatives in hospitals, and a spouse or support person in the maternity ward.
- Public sector employers to assign telecommuters to telecommuting jobs that allow them to do so.
- People over the age of 70 are required to stay away from contacts with other people wherever possible (quarantine conditions), with the exception of MPs, government and municipal trustees.
- Increase social and health care capacity in the public and private sectors. At the same time, unhurried activities are reduced. The capacity of the private sector will be pooled as needed. At the same time, legal deadlines and obligations are being flexible.
- Increasing coronavirus testing capacity. The Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will support the regions in this regard.
- People who are in the critical positions are exempt from the provisions of the Working Hours Act and the Annual Holidays Act in both the private and public sectors.
- The preparations have been made for the closure of Finland's borders for public health and safety reasons within a short time frame in accordance with international obligations. Tourism and passenger traffic to Finland shall be suspended as soon as possible, except for the return of Finnish citizens and persons who reside in Finland. Finnish citizens and persons residing in Finland should not travel abroad. Finnish travelers are advised to return immediately to Finland. Necessary employment and other necessary business activities are allowed across the northern and western borders. Cargo and freight traffic continues normally.
- Finns returning from abroad and persons with permanent residence in Finland will be guided to the conditions of a two-week quarantine
- Those returning from abroad must stay away from their jobs for two weeks and agree on the date of their return to work with their employer.
- The armed forces will ensure the continuity and readiness of their operations in all situations. Other authorities will be prepared to support as needed.