PM Marin: Return to normal possible in October, Covid passport to Parliament soon, 2m rule to be dropped

Later on Sunday, the government proposed to Parliament that the two-metre spacing requirement be dropped.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin at her official residence, Kesäranta, in mid-August. Image: Ilkka Klemola / Yle

According to Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), the government plans to release its new hybrid coronavirus strategy on Monday.

Speaking during the traditional Prime Minister's interview hour on Yle Radio Suomi on Sunday afternoon, Marin said the cabinet would meet in an unusual Sunday session to agree on issues such as the removing the requirement for two-metre social distancing in public.

Marin said that several changes would be made to the Communicable Diseases Act in addition to waiving the two-metre requirement.

She said that the goal is to get rid of all restrictions once vaccine coverage is high enough, i.e. more than 80 percent of the population over age 12, which could come next month.

As of Sunday, 53 percent of the entire population were fully inoculated, with more than 72 percent getting at least one jab. More than four million people have now received at least one dose of vaccine.

Coronavirus passport to Parliament soon

The government will present its plan for a coronavirus passport to Parliament in mid-September, Marin said, adding that she expects quick approval.

"I believe and hope that Parliament wants to deal with it quickly so that we'll have this tool in place by October as well," she said.

A coronavirus passport is a certificate stating whether the passport holder has been vaccinated, recently recovered from the illness, or has had a recent negative test result.

In an interview, Marin said that she shares the view that Finland could return to normal within one to two months, as expressed a day earlier by Mika Salminen, health security directorat the national health agency THL.

"This is an estimate that the government has received. Once 80 percent vaccine coverage is achieved, restrictions will be lifted. Now the estimate is that we'll reach that situation in October," Marin said.

Marin welcomed the THL's decision to change its policy on vaccine intervals, now allowing second doses to be given six weeks rather than eight weeks after the first, saying this was essential to improve vaccine coverage.

Government asks Parliament to drop 2m requirement

Later on Sunday, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health said that the government had proposed to Parliament that the two-metre requirement be dropped.

The government proposed to amend part of the Communicable Diseases Act that covers the conditions for the use of facilities for customers and participants to prevent the spread of the virus.

"The exact definition of close contact as well as the incidence rate as a criterion for application would be removed from the article. The proposed definition of close contact, which is to be deleted, refers to the presence of people indoors at a distance of less than two metres for more than 15 minutes or physical contact with each other," the ministry said in a statement.

Instead, close contact would be defined by regional government agencies or municipalities on a case-by-case basis, it said.

17.57: Updated with ministry statement