Customer premises closed, secondary education in distance learning from 1.3.

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2021-02-26 11:38

Updated on 1 March 2021: The age limit concerning children’s recreational activities was specified. Between 1 and 31 March 2021, guided recreational activities can only be organised in the city’s indoor and outdoor facilities for children born in or after 2008.

Temporary Section 58(g) of Communicable Diseases to be Applied Immediately, Metropolitan Area Coronavirus Coordination Group Urges   

In its meeting on 25 February 2021, the metropolitan area’s coronavirus coordination group expressed the opinion that the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland should immediately decide on the implementation of temporary section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act, but with exclusion of the guided recreational activities of children born in or after 2008. The decision would enter into force on 1 March 2021 and remain valid until 14 March 2021. 

Temporary section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act will enable the closure of customer premises and will apply to private gyms, team sport facilities, spas, public saunas, dance venues, amusement and theme parks, children’s indoor playgrounds and the public lounge areas of shopping centres. The restrictions will be elaborated in more detail in the decision to be made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland. 

Due to the Regional State Administrative Agency’s decision on section 58(g), recreational activities as of 1 March 2021 in the cities’ premises will only be allowed to children aged 12 or less.  This means that all public customer premises of the cities of the region will remain closed with the exception of the guided recreational activity time slots reserved for children born in or after 2008. This includes all municipal indoor sports facilities, cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. The facilities used for providing health care and social services, early childhood education, comprehensive education and essential upper secondary education will remain open. Services such as the essential use of customer computers in libraries and the distribution of face masks to those in need will continue. The cities have defined the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open to a limited extent and with due consideration to health and safety.  

In addition, the coronavirus coordination group decided that secondary education will remain in distance learning mode from 1 March 2021 to 7 March 2021, with the anticipation of continuing this arranangement during the lockdown measures related to emergency conditions on 8–27 March 2021. 

Earlier restrictions and recommendations by the coronavirus coordination group that will mostly be valid until the end of March 

The restrictions and recommendations imposed by the coronavirus coordination group regarding private events, the use of public premises and remote work will remain in place until 31 March 2021. The decision was made based on the prevalent epidemiological situation and overall assessment. In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group. 

Actual maintenance of distances at public premises, temporary section 58(d) of Communicable Diseases Act 

Private and public operators are obliged to arrange the use of premises that are open to the public or intended for a limited group of customers or participants in such a way that the customers, activity participants and groups can feasibly avoid close contact. Each operator may fulfil its obligations by restricting the number of customers, by rearranging the customer seats or facilities, or in another manner that considers the special characteristics of the operations. The decision applies to a wide range of private and public customer premises, with the exclusion of restaurants.  If it is impossible to avoid contact, the entire customer premises can be completely closed by decision of the Regional State Administrative Agency or the municipality. 

The restriction will be valid between 25 February and 14 March 2021. The decision was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.  

Organising public events 

All public events and meetings held indoors or outdoors have been prohibited for a limited time. However, organising public events and meetings of a maximum of 6 participants will be allowed, provided that safety can be ensured based on the instructions given by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on 21 September 2020. Events with at most 6 persons should be limited to the indispensable minimum, such as statutory shareholders’ meetings and association meetings. Remote connections must be used also in these cases whenever possible. 

The restrictions will be valid between 22 February and 14 March 2021. The decision was made by the Regional State Administrative Agency of Southern Finland.  

Organising private events 

The coordination group continues to recommend that close contacts be limited to members of the same household or those considered as close as household members. Other kinds of private gatherings or meetings with extended family are not recommended under any circumstances. Guests at a funeral or memorial service should still be restricted to only a small group of close relatives.  

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021. 

Public premises 

All public customer spaces will remain closed throughout March with the exception of the guided recreational activity time slots reserved for children born in or after 2008. This includes all municipal cultural centres, museums and youth facilities. The operations of adult education centres have been suspended.  

The facilities used for providing health care and social services, early childhood education, comprehensive education and essential upper secondary education will remain open. Services such as the essential use of customer computers in libraries and the distribution of face masks to those in need will continue. The cities have defined the facilities offering essential services, which will be kept open to a limited extent and with due consideration to health and safety. Libraries will continue to offer limited services. 

The coordination group continues to recommend that private operators similarly restrict the use of sports and leisure facilities.  

The restrictions and recommendations will be valid until 31 March 2021. 

Recreational activities 

The indoor and outdoor premises of the cities can only be used for guided recreational activities of children born in or after 2008. All forms of activities for children and young people must be implemented without close contacts. 

The restriction will be valid until 31 March 2021. 

Upper secondary education 

Secondary education (upper secondary schools and vocational education institutions) will continue with distance learning arrangements. Indispensable needs for contact teaching will be met. For example, contact teaching will be provided to students with disabilities, students that are receiving special needs education and students who need individual support for various reasons.  

Distance learning began at the start of the new evaluation period on 3 December 2020 and will continue until 7 March 2021. 

Remote work 

The coordination group still recommends employers to arrange all tasks remotely wherever possible, even temporarily. If remote work is impossible, the employer is recommended to instruct the employees to use face masks at all workspaces, even where it is possible to maintain safe distances. Workplace meals and coffee breaks must be staggered. 

The recommendation will be valid until 31 March 2021. 

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group prepares local decision-making 
 
The Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland established the metropolitan area coronavirus coordination group on 10 September 2020. In line with a regional operating model devised by Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the group aims to strengthen the formation of a common situational assessment and to coordinate and prepare local and regional measures. 

The group consists of top management from each member organisation and is responsible for the preparation and coordination of decision-making based on a shared assessment of the situation. Each member makes decisions independently, within its own sphere of authority. The group further intensifies the close metropolitan area collaboration that has continued throughout the coronavirus crisis. 

The City of Helsinki is responsible for organising the group’s operations. 

In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen will also adhere to the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.