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PM rejects criticism on handling of virus but says communication could improve

Sanna Marin said Finland would soon issue new Covid recommendations for all regions.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said the government would issue new recommendations for all regions on how to manage coronavirus restrictions at different stages of the epidemic.

Marin told the traditional 'Prime Minister's Interview Hour' programme on Yle's Radio Suomi on Sunday that measures to combat the virus hadn’t always been sufficient.

"We can’t have a situation where people in some areas don’t know what the guidelines and recommendations are," she said.

While infections have so far clustered in southern parts of the country, several regions are experiencing flare-ups. This weekend Jyväskylä in central Finland ordered 500 people into quarantine.

Marin backs Kiuru

Marin said her entire cabinet supported Social Affairs and Health minister Krista Kiuru, who on Friday faced criticism from the opposition National Coalition Party, which accused her of misleading communication on masks. Kiuru will face a confidence vote over the matter in Parliament next week.

During the spring experts didn’t believe it was necessary to issue general recommendations on mask usage, Marin explained, adding that new information on face coverings has emerged since coronavirus began spreading in Finland. She did, however, concede that the administration should clarify its communication on virus guidelines.

Marin reiterated to reporters that Finland was in the midst of a crisis which was making it difficult for people to find employment. She called on employers to avoid layoffs. With bars and restaurants particularly hard-hit by restrictions, Marin noted that decisions to further limit opening hours were not made lightly, and that they were introduced out of necessity.

Next week the government is set to discuss further curbs on society to minimise the spread of the virus, including new caps on gatherings and a switch to distance learning in upper secondary schools.