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Government adopts resolution on local and regional recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Government Communications DepartmentMinistry of Education and CultureMinistry of FinanceMinistry of Social Affairs and Health 23.10.2020 13.57
Press release 244/2020

In its resolution adopted on 23 October, the Government outlines national and regional recommendations aiming to support regional measures to curb the spread of the epidemic and help get it under control as quickly as possible. Epidemic prevention measures under the Communicable Diseases Act are primarily local and regional.

The Government emphasises the need to react quickly and proactively to the worsening situation with regard to the epidemic. The recommendations set out in the resolution are based on the Government’s proposals from 15 October and take into account the most recent assessment of the epidemiological situation. The recommendations are not legally binding. 

The recommendations are intended for employers, educational institutions and authorities, such as municipalities, joint municipal authorities, hospital districts and regional authorities, which will implement them in their regions and inform the public about them at the regional level. 

National remote work recommendation for all workplaces

The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recommend that public sector employees work remotely to the extent possible if their duties so allow. Remote work is also recommended for private sector employers, but the decision is up to the workplace. 

Arrangements should be made to reduce close contacts and other risk factors at workplaces. The increase in remote work will also ease the situation of people who need to use public transport: transport will be less crowded if there are fewer people using it.

Public events and meetings may be restricted

If the epidemic reaches or is approaching the acceleration phase, the Regional State Administrative Agencies may assess the adequacy of the existing restrictions on all public events and meetings, regardless of the number of participants.

Regional State Administrative Agencies may also impose additional requirements concerning the number of customers and seats and other arrangements in spaces so that people can avoid close contacts. The number of participants at public indoor events may be limited to half the normal capacity. In the community transmission phase of the epidemic, the Regional State Administrative Agencies may limit the number of participants to a maximum of ten persons or prohibit the organisation of events altogether.

Regional State Administrative Agencies make their decisions independently and according to their own discretion in line with the Act on Communicable Diseases and the above-mentioned recommendations. Municipalities and joint municipal authorities may also issue recommendations to residents on similar restrictions concerning private events and other meetings in the area. 

Recommendation to restrict group leisure activities

In the acceleration phase of the epidemic, municipalities and joint municipal authorities may recommend suspending indoor group activities for adults (aged 18 or older) or holding them remotely if the activities present a high risk of transmission. An activity is considered high-risk if close contacts and the risk of droplet infection at close range cannot be avoided. 

In the community transmission phase, municipalities and joint municipal authorities should consider tightening their restrictions so that group leisure activities, especially for adults, can be temporarily suspended or arranged remotely. When deciding to restrict group leisure activities, it is important to take into account the social, cultural and educational impacts of the restrictions on children, young people and population groups with limited functional capacity.

In the baseline, acceleration and community transmission phases of the epidemic, municipalities and joint municipal authorities may issue safety guidelines for group leisure activities similar to the guidelines for organising public events. 

Recommendations also apply to educational institutions

When it comes to universities, universities of applied sciences, general upper secondary education, vocational education, basic adult education in the arts, liberal adult education and basic adult education, the transition to distance learning should take place only if absolutely necessary based on a regional epidemiological assessment carried out by the health authorities. 

In the acceleration phase of the epidemic, higher education institutions should seriously consider switching to distance learning. 

In the community transmission phase, upper secondary schools, vocational institutions, liberal adult education institutions, educational institutions providing basic adult education and adult education in the arts, and higher education institutions may, at their discretion, switch to distance learning altogether. 

Use of public spaces may also be restricted

In the acceleration and community transmission phases of the epidemic, municipalities and joint municipal authorities may issue municipal and regional recommendations on following safety guidelines in the use of public spaces similar to the guidelines for organising public events. 

In the acceleration phase, municipalities may recommend limiting the number of users of spaces to half the normal capacity, and in the community transmission phase, they may recommend discontinuing the use of the spaces altogether. 

When restricting the use of public spaces, authorities must ensure that the measures do not restrict people’s right to access statutory services or to have their case heard by the competent authority, or prevent public officials from performing their official duties. 

Inquiries:

Tuija Kumpulainen, Director General, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 280, [email protected]
Jaska Siikavirta, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 394, [email protected] (available as of 26 October)
Juha Sarkio, Director General, Ministry of Finance, tel. +358 295 530 031,[email protected]Esko Ranto, Director General, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 115, [email protected]

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