Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Source: Finnish Government

Finland outlines strategy for alleviating COVID restrictions

Finland outlines strategy for alleviating COVID restrictions

It seeks to lift restrictions once 80% of the population is fully vaccinated

On 6 September, the Finnish government revealed its intentions to reopen the country and lift the current anti-epidemic restrictions. More specifically, it announced that it seeks to remove national restrictions and comprehensive recommendations when a minimum of 80% of all people over the age of 12 have been vaccinated twice or have been offered the opportunity to take both doses of the vaccine.

Currently, 53.6% of the Finnish population is fully vaccinated. According to a press release by the government, it is possible to meet the 80% target by mid-October. In any case, the government announced that it can begin to gradually alleviate restrictive measures even before reaching the desired vaccination coverage.

A uniform regional model

The new COVID strategy aims to open society and create conditions for economic growth and recovery. Taking this further, it seeks to reduce the negative social and economic consequences of the pandemic, safeguard the healthcare system, and protect vulnerable groups.

With the above aims in mind, the Finnish government has decided to abandon the current hierarchy of epidemic phases (baseline, acceleration, and spreading phases). Instead, it will introduce a uniform regional model whereby the spread of COVID will be prevented via local and regional measures under the Communicable Diseases Act. As such, restrictions will be more limited in terms of their scope, content, duration, and target groups.

The government recommends that regions must not impose restrictions on low-risk events and activities, even if there are clusters of infection in the area. However, they can introduce targeted recommendations for moderate-risk events and activities. Similarly, they can impose targeted restrictions for high-risk activities.

Beyond this, the government is planning on introducing a COVID passport: a certificate stating whether an individual has tested negative for COVID, been vaccinated, or recently recovered from the illness. The passport will be available for use following Parliament’s approval later this month.

It is important to highlight that the action plan also includes a “national emergency brake mechanism”. This means that if there is an unexpected change in the infection rates and regional measures are no longer sufficient, the government can reintroduce nationwide measures.



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