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.

Progress on COVID-19 vaccination (available in Finnish and Swedish) | Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare Link to external website

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.

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 

COVID-19 passport

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.

COVID-19 passport can be introduced, provisions on entry into the country to remain in force (press release 15 October 2021)

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.

Matters under preparation related to COVID-19 restrictions and their dismantling

COVID-19 passport can be introduced, provisions on entry into the country to remain in force

15.10.2021 17.03
The EU Digital COVID Certificate will be introduced nationally. In practice, this means that in Finland the COVID-19 passport can be used in situations and premises which are subject to restrictions. In addition, the temporary provisions of the Communicable Diseases Act which help prevent COVID-19 infections of foreign origin from spreading into Finland will remain in force.

Definition of close contact to be removed from the Communicable Diseases Act

7.10.2021 13.30
The Government proposes that the amendment to the temporary section 58 d of the Communicable Diseases Act be approved. The section regulates the conditions for using premises intended for customers and event participants to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The exact definition of close contact will be removed, along with the incidence rate used as a criterion for its application.

National recommendation on remote work to be lifted in mid-October – workplaces can start preparing for combined remote and office work

24.9.2021 12.26
The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have reviewed the grounds for the recommendation on remote work. The ministries propose to lift the recommendation on 15 October. The ministries estimate that by then the vaccination coverage will be close to the goal set by the Government. This would enable a safe transition to combined remote and office work.