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Opera's Covid crowd plan approved

Football clubs and others view the Opera's plan as a test case.

Suomen Kansallisooppera ja oopperatalon portti, jossa sana "Ooppera" kohokirjaimin.
Image: Juha-Pekka Inkinen / Yle
Yle News

A plan for the Finnish National Opera to let in a paying crowd without the multiple additional separate entrances, toilets and refreshment stands currently required by the letter of the law has been approved by the State regional Administrative Agency (Avi) for Southern Finland.

The Opera had earlier announced its plan to let in 300 people to the 1,300 capacity auditorium, but was not planning to seat them in separate blocks with their own entrances and toilets.

As a consequence, the regional Avi asked Helsinki's municipal inspectors to check the arrangements complied with Covid restrictions. They gave the green light, partly because the opera house is such a big space for the 300 people allowed in.

"In Avi's decision there is a reference to blocks, for example so that sanitary facilities can be used in staggered intervals so that it can be ensured that groups have the opportunity to remain separate," said the head of Helsinki's food safety unit, Riikka Åberg.

"Spaces should be cleaned and disinfected between the groups. It depends what kind of premises it is — what kind of toilets and how large the building is — there are different ways of complying with the Avi decision."

The premiere of Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci is therefore going ahead as a double bill on Friday, as planned.

Helsinki football club HJK view the Opera arrangements as a test case, and have announced that they plan to let in some 4,000 fans for their Europa League play-off second leg against Fenerbahce next Thursday.

They have divided their Töölö stadium into 81 'blocks' and hope that will be enough to satisfy the Covid regulations.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health had said that Avi officials could exclude children and young people's hobbies from Covid restrictions, after suffering severe criticism when hobbies were apparently banned and then allowed again in the Helsinki region.

On Friday morning the Culture minister Antti Kurvinen (Cen) said that he hoped Finland could ease all restrictions, following the lead of the United Kingdom.

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