Government decides on immediate transition to tier 2 of COVID-19 prevention and is prepared to declare a state of emergency
In its meeting on 24 February, the Government decided to impose more stringent measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and to transition to tier 2 of prevention measures.
A total of seven hospital districts are being instructed to transition immediately to tier 2 prevention measures, which are the strictest restrictions for areas in the community transmission phase of the epidemic. The same measures are recommended for nine areas currently in the acceleration phase. The Government will issue a resolution on the matter at its plenary session today.
The Government is prepared to declare a state of emergency throughout the country. Under section 23 of the Constitution, which lays down provisions on emergency conditions, the Government proposes that food and beverage service businesses be closed for a period of three weeks from 8 to 28 March. The proposed closure will not apply to areas where the epidemic is at a stable level.
The aim of all these measures is to prevent the rapid acceleration of the COVID-19 epidemic and to curb the spread of more infectious virus variants.
Most stringent restrictions in effect in seven hospital districts
The relevant authorities and all areas in the community transmission phase are being instructed to implement all measures to address the community transmission phase of the COVID-19 epidemic to their full extent, including the new powers under the Communicable Diseases Act:
- Extensive recommendation on remote work and the use of face masks
- Protection of risk groups
- Distance learning for higher education institutions
- Closures of or restrictions on the use of public premises (recommendations and decisions)
- Suspension of adult group hobbies (recommendations and decisions)
- Possible restrictions on passenger traffic and the number of passengers
In addition to these measures, which are already in place, the following areas are being instructed to implement more stringent additional measures for tier 2 as outlined in the Government Action Plan:
- Helsinki and Uusimaa
- Southwest Finland
The additional prevention measures are as follows:
- Restrictions on gatherings with more than 6 persons
- Avoiding private events with more than 6 persons
- Municipalities and joint municipal authorities will intensify their monitoring of quarantine and self-isolation
The same measures and additional measures are also recommended for the following nine areas currently in the acceleration phase:
- East Savo
- South Karelia
- Central Finland
- North Ostrobothnia
- South Ostrobothnia
State of emergency and closure of restaurants 8–28 March
The Government is prepared to declare a state of emergency throughout the country. The Prime Minister has discussed declaring a state of emergency with the President of the Republic. The parliamentary groups will convene to discuss the situation later on Thursday. The Government is prepared to decide on the transition to emergency conditions next week.
The Government proposes closing food and beverage service businesses during the emergency conditions from 8 to 28 March, except for in areas where the epidemic is at a stable level. However, meals may be sold to customers for takeaway.
In addition, with effect from 8 March and as part of the additional measures for tier 2, the upper grades of comprehensive school will be instructed to switch to temporary distance learning in areas where the epidemic is in the community transmission or acceleration phase. Group hobbies for young people over 12 years of age may be suspended.
Inquiries: Henrik Haapajärvi, State Secretary to the Prime Minister, [email protected]; Kirsi Varhila, Permanent Secretary and Pasi Pohjola, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, [email protected]