Finland's military planning to dismantle coronavirus restrictions

The Finnish Defense Forces says that if conditions allow, training will return to near-normal routines in January.

Personnel in a Finnish Defense Forces CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials) field laboratory in September 2020. Image: Jaani Lampinen / Yle

Restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus within the Finnish Defense Forces are to be lifted in four different stages. The first is the waiving of the current requirement to use a face mask and safety distancing of two metres outdoors.

These first restrictions are scheduled to be lifted in November, after all conscripts have had access to two doses of a vaccine. The pandemic will also have to be judged to be under control before the plan is rolled out.

In the second phase, canteens, social and sports facilities will be opened for use unit by unit. The requirement of maintaining a two-metre safe distance will also be waived for indoor activities. In addition, training will resume in larger groups than at present.

Overall, conscript training is return to near-normal operations in early January, if the situation allows.

In the third phase of the military's plan, training and leave routines will return to standard practice. This is likely to happen in the second half of January. The fourth stage, likely to be implemented in February, will see the Defense Forces return to full pre-coronavirus operations.

The Defense Forces says it is constantly monitoring the effects of dismantling restrictions. The situation is being monitored locally, so restrictions can be lifted in different units at different rates. The phased lifting of restrictions is intended to maintain defense capabilities and protect the health of personnel and conscripts.