Government resolutions on recommendations for wearing face coverings and face masks and for remote work
On Thursday 13 August, the Government adopted in its plenary session resolutions on recommendations for wearing face coverings and face masks and for remote work. The Government discussed the matter in its informal meeting held earlier today.
In the meeting, the Government discussed a proposal for a recommendation on the wearing of face coverings and face masks issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (Appendix). With the resolution, the Government supports the recommendation of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
The proper use of face coverings and face masks may reduce infections by preventing the spread of droplets. The recommendation aims at protecting people from possible exposure to coronavirus infection. People must acquire their own face coverings and face masks, but municipalities will ensure that they are available free of charge for people in the most vulnerable groups in the areas subject to the recommendation.
Government resolution on remote work recommendation
The Government also discussed the recommendation for remote work prepared by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (Appendix) and decided to issue a resolution on remote work.
In a situation where the health authorities state that the COVID-19 epidemic is growing regionally, the Government recommends that workplaces in the region shift to remote work when possible. Employers should also promote work arrangements that reduce close contacts and other risk factors at the workplace.
Correspondingly, in a situation where the health authorities state that, despite preventive measures, the epidemic is increasing on the level of population as a whole, public sector workers, whose duties so allow, should shift to remote work as extensively as possible. The Government recommends that extensive remote work practices be adopted by the private sector employers, too.
Coronavirus testing and possible quarantine for those arriving from high-risk countries
In its informal meeting, the Government took note of a review and a memorandum on procedures under the Communicable Diseases Act at border crossing points. The purpose of the coronavirus-related decisions made by the authorities is to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections to Finland with persons coming from high-risk areas.
COVID-19 tests (health checks) are performed on travellers under sections 14, 15 or 16 of the Communicable Diseases Act. As a rule, the tests are voluntary. If a person does not submit to a test voluntarily, a regional state administrative agency may order mandatory testing. This is possible, for example, if there are symptomatic passengers on board a flight.
It would be possible to issue a personal quarantine order to a person arriving from a high-risk area for 14 days if there is reason to suspect that the person has been exposed to coronavirus. This is the case when there are symptomatic passengers on board, for example. The decision to quarantine a person is made by the physician responsible for infectious diseases in the municipality or hospital district.
The Government has also requested the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare to prepare a so-called traffic light model that would communicate to citizens, businesses and other actors in society what measures are likely to be taken when people arrive to Finland from different countries. In the traffic light model, areas are classified into red, yellow and green countries.
In addition, the Government requested the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare to explore alternative ways to ensure health security at border crossing points, for example through two-stage testing.
At the moment, high-risk areas are countries that are subject to border control due to the coronavirus situation, and people arriving from these countries are instructed to self-isolate. The limit set by Finland is eight new cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the previous 14 days. The list of countries approved for travel to and from Finland is reviewed at regular intervals.
Health security at borders: Kirsi Varhila, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Affairs, [email protected], Liisa Katajamäki, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 329 (Communicable Diseases Act), and Hannu Kiviranta, Research Professor, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, tel. +358 29 524 6361
Recommendation for wearing of face coverings and face masks: Director Mika Salminen, tel. +358 29 524 8454, and Taneli Puumalainen, Chief Physician, tel. +358 29 524 6080, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
Recommendation for remote work: Jani Pitkäniemi, Director-General, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 031