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Restrictions on gatherings in Helsinki area extended into August

Authorities say restrictions on public events must be kept in place as "the infection situation in the region has deteriorated".

Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri, korona, maski, visiiri
A socially-distanced audience at a performance of The Little Mermaid at the Helsinki City Theatre (file photo). Image: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle
Yle News

The Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) of Southern Finland has extended restrictions on public events in the Helsinki metropolitan area. The agency said on Tuesday that current rules will remain in force in Helsinki and the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa until 10 August.

"The restrictions are necessary because the infection situation in the region has deteriorated," the Avi said in a statement.

The decision comes as the number of coronavirus infections rose again nationwide after a week of declines. Today the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL reported 222 new cases following several days of lower caseloads.

After months of low daily rates, infections spiked in late June after thousands of fans returned from a UEFA football match in St Petersburg without being tested.

Asko Järvinen, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Helsinki and Uusimaa healthcare district (HUS), told the tabloid newspaper Iltalehti on Tuesday that most new patients being hospitalised recently in the region are unvaccinated. They range in age from 25 to 70.

Social distancing required at indoor events

Continuation of the current restrictions was recommended by both a Covid coordination group chaired by HUS and a corresponding group in the Helsinki metropolitan area.

Under the current restrictions, meetings can be arranged indoors or outdoors including any number of people.

However, for indoor meetings with more than 10 people, participants must be able to maintain social distancing. They should not be closer than two metres from each other for more than 15 minutes and must avoid direct physical contact, the Avi said.

At outdoor events with more than 50 people, participants must be able to avoid physical contact with each other, but no particular safety intervals are specified.

At all gatherings, those taking part must be provided with hand-washing facilities and other general hygiene rules must be followed. Event organisers must ensure that close contact can be avoided.

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