Government Resolution on a plan for a hybrid strategy to manage the COVID-19 crisis
At its plenary session on Wednesday 6 May, the Government adopted a resolution on a plan for a hybrid strategy to manage the COVID-19 crisis. The Government Resolution specifies the guidelines adopted by the Government on Sunday and Monday for continuing restrictive measures to curb the coronavirus epidemic, and the controlled and gradual dismantling of restrictive measures. The Government Resolution guides the preparation of the authorities' official activities, on the basis of which further legislative and decision-making proposals will be prepared and further guidance given.
The measures proposed by the Government aim to prevent the spread of the virus in Finland, to safeguard the capacity of the healthcare system and to shield and protect people, especially those who are most at risk. Finland has so far succeeded well in curbing the epidemic. For this reason, it is possible to move from extensive restrictive measures to implementing a hybrid strategy based on the “test, trace, isolate and treat” approach.
The aim is that the strategy will curb the epidemic effectively while minimising the adverse impact on people, businesses, society and the exercise of fundamental rights.
The goal is to move from the current restrictions to a situation where restrictions and protective measures are targeted at:
- Big public events.
- Restaurant operations deemed to be at the highest risk level, particularly nightclubs and restaurants with the largest customer capacities or very confined premises.
- Preventing the spread of the virus from resuming in Finland due in particular to travel from higher-risk countries.
- Protecting the elderly and other people belonging to risk groups.
- Maintaining the practices related to hygiene, social distancing and consideration for others adopted during the epidemic. The public authorities will continue to support this by providing guidance to people.
As restrictive measures are gradually lifted, the development of the epidemic and the burden on the healthcare system will be closely monitored and assessed. The Government will assess its policies in the light of monitoring data and make changes if necessary.
It will be necessary to continue to adhere to the hybrid strategy until the epidemic has been brought under control on a global level. If necessary, the strategy will be updated in the light of new research data.
In the Government’s view, all background information and calculations, including assumptions and parameters, used as a basis for decision-making should be published in line with the principles of open science and research.
Further decrees on extending the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act issued by the Government
At its session on Wednesday, the Government issued further decrees on extending the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act in order to safeguard the functioning of the healthcare social welfare service system. They apply to section 86 (direction of the operations of healthcare and social welfare units), section 87 (other direction and management of healthcare), section 88 (compliance with the time limits for the provision of non-urgent care, assessments of the need for social welfare services), section 93 (derogation from terms of employment), and section 94 (restricting the right to terminate employment) of the Emergency Powers Act. The decrees will remain in force until 30 June 2020.
The Government proposes extending the powers on the restriction of the sale of medicines, goods and services used in healthcare and on the direction and management of other healthcare. The aim is to ensure in particular the availability of medicinal products and the functioning of the distribution chain in Finland in the exceptional circumstances caused by COVID-19.
The aim is to also extend the powers provided under the Emergency Powers Act to direct the operations of the healthcare and social welfare units. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the regional state administrative agencies are prepared, where necessary, to take binding decisions quickly on adjusting the operations of healthcare and social welfare units.
At the same time, the right granted to municipalities to deviate from time limits for non-urgent healthcare and from initiating the assessment of the need for social welfare services will be continued.
On the basis of the decree extending the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act, the Government will shortly adopt a new application decree, which will allow for temporary derogations in the application of certain provisions of the Annual Holidays Act, the Working Hours Act and the Employment Contracts Act in critical functions of society even beyond 13 May 2020. This way it will be possible to respond to possible personnel shortages caused by the virus epidemic in healthcare and social services. After 13 May 2020, the decree will no longer apply to rescue services, emergency response centres and police operations.
Inquiries: Timo Lankinen, Permanent State Under-Secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, tel. +358 295 160 300 (Government Resolution) and Sanna Helopuro, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Prime Minister's Office, tel. +358 295 160 170 (extension decrees), Prime Minister's Office; Anne Ilkka, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 384 (healthcare), Jaana Huhta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 407 (social welfare), Merituuli Mähkä, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. + 295 163 575 (pharmaceutical services) and Tarja Kröger, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 048 937