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Cautious optimism over return of live events

Sporting organisations said they hoped the industry would be trusted to act responsibly.

HIFK:n faneja stadionin ulkopuolella Veikkausliigan ottelussa
Football games have been played in front of empty stands, including this match on 15 May. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Sporting organisations have greeted the prospect of lifting coronavirus restrictions on live events with cautious optimism, industry leaders said.

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) told Yle on Friday that plans for the lifting of restrictions are ready, pending the outcome of a round of comments this week.

According to the proposals, most of the current limits on live events would be lifted. From June, large, outdoor public events could be held under certain conditions, even in areas where the virus is spreading.

In areas where the pandemic is in the spreading phase, the rules would dictate that outdoor public events could be held if the crowd were divided into blocks of 50 people.

Saarikko: 'I'm happy if Kiuru backs the plans"

Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko (Cen) told the STT news agency that she was pleased Kiuru now appeared to support the view that events could return.

"It has been the position of our ministry for some time, and this was also the model used last summer," she said.

In addition to the plan to divide up audience members, the culture ministry has also pushed to make it easier for event organisers to change the required social distancing gap as the pandemic situation improves, Saarikko said.

Sports industry insiders appeared cautiously optimistic at the news.

"If the restrictions are removed, we hope that we will move forward quickly, so we do not fall into a cycle of reflection and clarification where we have to wait for a weekly decision," said Veikkausliiga CEO Timo Marjamaa.

"I believe and hope that the industry would be trusted, whether it was culture or sports," said the head of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association, Harri Nummela.

Last week's All Points North asked why events are lagging behind bars and pubs in the return to a post-Covid normal.

You can listen to the full podcast using the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

Article continues after audio.

Cultural event organisers, by contrast, were less positive.

The freelancers' representative for the Musician's Association Juho Viljanen told STT that it was already too late for the music industry.

"It will have taken a year for Kiuru and colleagues to put together the legislation. So far the handling has been by no means even-handed," he said.

Viljanen, who works as a musician, had further questions about the practicality of the rumoured proposals.

"If the restrictions are unnecessarily strict, as I have heard rumours of a safety gap of two metres indoors, the audience capacity would be 15-20 percent. In that case the performance would not be profitable," Viljanen said.

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