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Workshop participants hope to see Communicable Diseases Act treat different sectors on more equal terms

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 21.12.2023 14.00
News item

Finland’s communicable diseases legislation is being reformed in 2023–2025. During the reform, a number of thematic workshops will be organised to give the key stakeholders an opportunity to express their views. The first workshop was held on 18 December under the theme business activities and employment.

Section 58 of the Communicable Diseases Act sparked a lot of discussion. According to this section, in order to prevent a generally hazardous communicable disease, wellbeing services counties may, if necessary, close educational institutions and early education centres, for example, and prohibit public events and meetings. Many participants stated that section 58 is not, as a rule, sector neutral or equal, but it restricts particularly the event sector’s freedom to conduct business. However, prevention measures must be based on the risk of spreading the infection in different premises and events.  

The underlying hope was that society would be kept open as long as possible even during a pandemic or other outbreak of a generally hazardous communicable disease. The selected prevention measures must be proportionate, information-based and timely. In addition, a lot of clear communication is needed on the epidemiological situation and recommendations.

Aim is to prevent not only diseases but also harm to society

The objective of the Communicable Diseases Act is to prevent communicable diseases from occurring and spreading as well as to prevent harmful effects caused by these diseases to people and society. As stated at the event, it is important to consider, among other things, the broad societal impacts of prevention measures and their impacts on mental health and children’s right to receive high-quality education.  

The workshop also discussed how in early 2020 society was faced with an unknown disease. Because of this, even the restrictions served a clear purpose. The discussions noted that the effects of many measures can be both negative and positive at the same time. 

The workshop included representatives from the event sector, occupational healthcare, the organisation for Finnish SMEs Suomen Yrittäjät, and employee and employer associations. All the feedback was recorded, and it will be discussed by the preparatory working group for the reform of the Communicable Diseases Act. The workshop was facilitated by HAUS Finnish Institute of Public Management Ltd.


Anni-Riitta Virolainen-Julkunen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Medical Affairs, tel. +358 295 163 324

Mirka-Tuulia Kuoksa, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 079