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Retailers relax Covid guidelines

Shops may now drop mask requirements in areas where health authorities no longer recommend their use indoors.

Masks have been widely used by retail customers as seen in this photo from a Prisma supermarket in the Kannelmäki district of Helsinki last March. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Finland's retail trade sector is relaxing restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The Finnish Commerce Federation, a nationwide umbrella group for retailers, and the Finnish Grocery Trade association announced on Thursday that the use of the masks in shops should no longer be necessary in areas where the authorities have lifted recommendations for the use of masks in public indoor spaces.

According to the Commerce Federation, 15 of the country's 21 hospital districts on Wednesday still recommended the use of the masks in indoor facilities such as shops. So far, indoor mask recommendations have been lifted in only six hospital districts.

"It is possible to relax coronavirus protection practices, as vaccine coverage has improved, the government has updated its hybrid strategy, and the health authorities have issued new guidelines," Commerce Federation CEO Mari Kiviniemi stated in a Thursday press release.

Even though restrictions are being eased in some areas, the Commerce Federation has urged retailers to consider continuing mask requirements nationwide when shops are busy, there are queues, and in close-quarters service situations lasting more than 15 minutes.

In accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act, retail shops are still required to provide customers with hand disinfectant facilities on their premises, to communicate safety instructions to customers, and to continue enhanced cleaning practices.