Government announces a three-week shutdown of Finland since March 8

Nervousness has overcome the Finnish government, which until a few days ago boasted of its good management of the coronarivus epidemic in the country.

After two weeks in which the number of infections, the incidence of cases and the occupancy of hospitals have risen sharply, the government chaired by the social democrat Sanna Marin announced on Thursday a three-week closure of Finland, which will begin the 8 of March and will affect bars, restaurants and places of study, among others, in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Marin told to a press conference in the morning that the seven hospital districts which currently are in the so-called ‘spreading stage’ of the pandemic are being instructed to transition immediately to tier 2 of the government’s three-tier prevention plan. The same measures are recommended for nine areas in the acceleration phase.

In practice, this means that bars and restaurants will be closed for a period of three weeks from 8 to 28 March, except in the areas where the epidemic is at a stable level. However, meals may be sold to customers for takeaway.

Schools, hobbies

School students in grades 7-9 and high schools will switch to distance learning, as well as pupils in vocational education. Only daycare, kindergartens and schools up to grade six will remain open.

Indoor hobbies will be suspended for people over 12 years of age and public gatherings and private events of more than six people will be banned.

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According to a government press release, these more stringent measures will apply to the hospital districts of  Helsinki and Uusimaa, Southwest Finland, Satakunta, Kanta-Häme, Vaasa, Åland and Lapland.

The same measures are also recommended for the nine areas currently in the acceleration phase: East Savo, South Karelia, Pirkanmaa, Central Finland, Päijät-Häme, Länsi-Pohja, North Ostrobothnia, South Ostrobothnia and Kymenlaakso.

Tools ‘no longer enough’

Prime Minister said the epidemic in Finland had worsened in recent weeks, due in part to the spread of the highly-infectious British variant of the Covid-19. According to the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), 759 infections caused by the new variants have been identified in Finland, of which 729 correspond to the strain first found in the United Kingdom.

“The tools previously available to us are no longer enough to control the situation,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin said.

The government said in a statement that it is prepared to declare a state of emergency throughout the country. The prime minister has discussed declaring a state of emergency with President Sauli Niinistö.

“The government is prepared to decide on the transition to emergency conditions next week,” the statement said.

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