Lifting the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 and reopening society in autumn 2021
Finland will lift the restrictions and recommendations put in place due to COVID-19 once vaccination coverage is sufficiently high. Sufficient vaccination coverage means that at least 80 per cent of people over 12 years of age have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine or have had the opportunity to receive both doses.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare is monitoring the progress of vaccinations.
According to the current estimate, it is possible to achieve 80 per cent vaccination coverage by the end of October, if the increase in the vaccine uptake does not slow down. Restrictions in place at the regional level can be gradually lifted even earlier if the epidemiological situation so permits.
The aim is to keep society open
The hybrid strategy for managing the COVID-19 crisis and the related action plan have been updated to reflect the epidemiological situation. The strategy sets out the principles for managing the epidemic, lifting the restrictions and reopening society.
The guiding principle is that once we have achieved sufficient vaccination coverage, we will no longer place restrictions on society. We will discontinue the system of classifying regions into different phases (baseline, acceleration phase and community transmission phase) and imposing restrictions and recommendations based on them.
If regional clusters of infection emerge, they will primarily be managed through local and regional measures in line with the Communicable Diseases Act.
Some restrictions have already been lifted
Some of the restrictions have already been lifted, but certain restrictions and recommendations are still necessary.
- For example, the guidelines on good hygiene are still in force. Transmission and protection – COVID-19 | Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
- The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has updated its recommendations on the use of face masks. According to the recommendations, masks should still be worn in busy, public indoor spaces, especially by people who are unvaccinated. Recommendation on the use of face masks for citizens | Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
- The hygiene requirements for restaurants and events will remain in force until the end of the year.
- There are still restrictions on restaurant opening hours and number of customer seats, but these restrictions will also be lifted once vaccination coverage is sufficient. Restrictions on restaurants by region
- There are no restrictions on public events as of 1 October 2021.
- The recommendation to work remotely will end on 15 October 2021. Remote work during COVID-19 (available in Finnish and Swedish) | Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
- Travel restrictions are still in force for people travelling from outside the EU and the Schengen area.
- However, no health security measures are required at the border for people who are fully vaccinated. Restrictions on entry
Restrictions may be reintroduced if the COVID-19 situation deteriorates
If the COVID-19 situation deteriorates, it may be necessary to reintroduce certain restrictions.
1. Restrictions on individuals
These measures primarily target infected persons and those who have been exposed to COVID-19. The aim is to break any high-risk transmission chains and prevent the spread of the virus more broadly through the population using measures such as testing and quarantine. National strategy for COVID-19 testing and tracing updated to target testing and tracing more accurately | Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (press release 14 September 2021)
2. Regional restrictions and recommendations for the entire population
Potential recommendations for the entire population focus on reducing encounters (maintaining physical distance, recommendation to work remotely), good hygiene (including the use of face masks) and facilitating contact tracing (using the Koronavilkku mobile app).
These measures would target premises, events and activities where the risk of spreading the virus can justifiably be considered elevated.
The Finnish institute for Health and Welfare has published an assessment table to support the authorities in assessing the risk of infection at events: Assessing the risk of spreading COVID-19 at events and gatherings (available in Finnish and Swedish) | Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare
As an alternative to the COVID-19 restrictions, operators who are subject to these restrictions could require their customers to present a COVID-19 passport.
The COVID-19 passport will serve as an alternative in situations where the event or premises in question are subject to restrictions. Such restrictions can include restrictions on opening hours or on the number of participants at events.
The COVID-19 passport will not, however, serve as an alternative to restrictions in situations where the authorities have closed the premises or prohibited the public event altogether owing to the COVID-19 situation.
3. Emergency brake mechanism
If the epidemic situation deteriorates severely and unexpectedly, the Government could introduce an emergency brake mechanism. This would mean returning to extensive restrictions and recommendations that would be guided by national legislation. A clear strategic goal and dismantling criteria would be set in advance for the emergency brake system.
The emergency brake mechanism is being prepared separately. It may involve returning to measures corresponding to the regional phases of the epidemic. The mechanism would be introduced by a government resolution.