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Gov't lifts state of emergency in Finland, further relaxing coronavirus restrictions

Prime Minister Sanna Marin emphasised that the risk of infection is not yet over in Finland. 

Pääministeri Sanna Marin ja oikeusministeri Anna-Maja Henriksson hallituksen tiedotustilaisuudessa Helsingissä 15. kesäkuuta.
Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson and Prime Minister Sanna Marin at the press conference on Monday. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Government announced it is lifting use of Emergency Powers Act, which was implemented in mid-March to deal with the coronavirus epidemic. Finland will now return to normal conditions, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a press conference in Helsinki on Monday.

"Based on the epidemiological and legal assessments we received, it can be stated that the conditions no longer exist for the emergency measures to be in use. The Emergency Powers Act and its implementing regulations will be revoked," Marin said.

However, the PM underscored that the danger of infection is not over in Finland quite yet.

"The end of the emergency act does not mean the threat of the epidemic is over. It is good for everyone to exercise care and caution in their everyday lives and to take care of their own and their fellow human being's health," Marin said.

Marin said before the government talks on Monday that she has had a discussion with Finland's President Sauli Niinistö on the issue.

The government, along with Niinistö, stated in mid-March that Finland was under a state of emergency.

Distancing measures continue despite infection decline

Even though the Act is being lifted, restrictions on the operations and practices of restaurants, public gatherings and nursing home visits will continue in some forms.

According to the government, its goal is to no longer rely on emergency law in future. To this end, it will submit proposals to parliament in August to enable it to address possible increases in the infection rate.

The government will issue detailed repeal regulations at a plenary session on Monday evening. On Wednesday, government will revisit and review all existing coronavirus recommendations including restrictions on visits to care homes and on public gatherings of more than 500 people.

Spread of the epidemic has significantly slowed in recent weeks, according to data from the Institute for Health and Welfare THL. Since the outbreak began in mid-March, health centres have diagnosed just over 7,100 Covid-19 cases, with only a handful of patients currently in hospital.

Last week THL announced that an estimated 6,400 people have recovered from Covid-19. To date, the disease has claimed the lives 326 people in Finland.

Justice Minister: "No longer than necessary"

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson said she was pleased the government was able to revoke the use of the Emergency Powers Act. The invocation of the statute in March was the very first time it was utilised during peacetime.

"Laws restricting citizens' fundamental rights cannot be maintained for any longer than is necessary. The Emergency Powers Act legislation cannot be used as a precautionary measure," Henriksson said.

According to Henriksson, the decision to lift the Act was based on information provided by experts about the coronavirus situation. The situation in Finland has reached a point where there are no longer any legal grounds for using the emergency law.

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