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Marin, other ministers promise help for cultural sector

Ministers arriving for government negotiations on Thursday afternoon talks said they would discuss the plight of the cultural sector.

Cabinet talks at the House of Estates (file photo). Image: Lauri Heikkinen / Valtioneuvoston kanslia

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has said that the government is to decide on the general guidelines of its so-called hybrid coronavirus strategy on Thursday, including the vaccine coverage target.

Another key question, according to Marin, is when the epidemic level system can be abandoned in various regions once the desired vaccine coverage has been achieved.

Marin said before the meeting that the draft negotiating proposal calls for 80-90 percent coverage among those over 12 years of age.

"We are working to get vaccine coverage in Finland so that we can get rid of the restrictive measures completely," Marin said.

She spoke before government negotiations on Thursday afternoon at the House of Estates.

In addition to the general guidelines to be decided on Thursday, a programme of more specific measures is being prepared and will be decided on next week or the following week, she said.

The cabinet will also discuss the plight of the cultural and event sector, the premier added. According to Marin, relief for the sector is on the cards even before the coronavirus strategy is updated. The talks will address the issue of two-metre safety gaps, which has been criticised by the theatre sector, among others.

"We want to ensure that cultural activities can remain open. This current situation is not reasonable in that people can go to restaurants, but it's not possible to sit in a theatre even when safety measures have been taken care of," said the premier.

Kiuru: "Authorities unable to make decisions"

Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) said she was concerned about Thursday's record-high new infection figures and accused other authorities of an inability to act.

"We are ending up in a frozen situation where, for one reason or another, the relevant authorities are unable to make decisions. We cannot continue with the number of infections constantly rising while vaccine coverage is insufficient to protect people. That will lead to the closure of society," Kiuru said.

According to Kiuru, now is the time to act so that society can re-open when vaccine coverage progresses. She said that negotiations would also address a model for assessing the risk potential of various exposure situations, which could be used on a case-by-case basis to determine when safety distances are sufficient.

"This risk-based assessment should be introduced as an epidemic tool. It would allow us, even if vaccine coverage is insufficient, to be able to keep society partially open," said the second health minister.

Yle has learned that under the plan, restrictions would be stricter, for example, at events where singing takes place, and lower, for example, at events where there is seating and visitors can be contacted afterwards if need be.

Relief expected for cultural sector

Some ministers arriving for the Thursday afternoon talks said the situation in the cultural sector would be one of the main themes of the negotiations.

Both the Greens chair, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, and the Left Alliance chair, Minister of Education Li Andersson, emphasised the need for measures to help the financially strapped industry.

“The current legislation and the way it has been applied in practice make organising cultural events very challenging or impossible,” Andersson said.

According to Ohisalo, the most important issue is to quickly decide on measures that can be used to assess the risk of organising various events.

Minister of Science and Culture Antti Kurvinen (Cen) also signalled that he would demand changes to the two-metre safety distance rule.

Kurvinen hopes that information about limits on indoor events will be available as soon as possible so that event organisers can plan for the autumn season.