In a statement issued on Thursday, the Finnish Grocery Trade Association and its member companies strongly recommend that customers use a face mask when shopping in stores, especially in areas that are seeing an acceleration or increased spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Uusimaa coronavirus coordination group has recommended to private traders in the region that they require customers to use a face mask. This applies to both individual shops and shopping centres.
The Grocery Trade Association notes, however, that this is not a legal mandate.
"The legislation does not allow mandatory orders for the use of masks and the trade sector is not empowered to enforce, much less impose such a [legally binding] rule. Shop personnel do not have any legal means to prevent people without masks from doing business in the store," Kari Luoto, CEO of the Finnish Grocery Trade Association, noted in a Thursday press release.
The All Points North podcast looked at what's changed in Finland's mask recommendations this week. You can listen to the full podcast via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify (siirryt toiseen palveluun), Apple Podcasts (siirryt toiseen palveluun) or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed (siirryt toiseen palveluun).
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When issuing its recommendation, the association pointed out that the products and services of the grocery trade are essential goods for society's security of supply and must be available to all consumers.
"We urge consumers to shoulder their responsibilities and wear face masks when shopping. However, it must be remembered that for health reasons, for example, not everyone can use a mask. Wearing a mask is a way to prevent infections, along with good hand and cough hygiene and adequate safe distancing," Luoto stated.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus epidemic, the grocery trade has taken a number of measures to improve the safety of customers and staff. The association says that now as the infection rate is again accelerating, its member companies will continue to step up their efforts.
"It is still safe to do business, and a mask recommendation is one more way to ensure that," the group says.