Avi: No Covid restrictions on children's activities in Helsinki region

Despite government recommendations, children and young people can continue to participate in supervised recreational activities.

Coronavirus health and safety guidelines must be followed for all indoor recreational activities for children. Image: Antti Ullakko / Yle

The Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) of Southern Finland has decided not to impose coronavirus-related restrictions on supervised hobbies and sports activities for children and youth.

In practice, that means people born in or after 2003 in southern Finland will continue to be able to take part in supervised activities, while taking Covid precautions into account at all times.

The regional authority's decision comes despite official recommendations from the ministerial working group on Covid-19. In a press release on 7 January, the group recommended that restrictions on indoor spaces be extended to include recreational activities for children and young people given the worsening coronavirus situation in the country.

The government's decision to restrict indoor activities for children has met with criticism, particularly from sports associations. Additionally, several experts disagree with the recommendation.

"Our estimate is that children will not be the driving force behind the pandemic, so all restrictions related to children are de facto ineffective, but the harm caused is immediate and widespread. The hobbies of children and young people should therefore not be limited systematically and without a thorough consideration of local circumstances," Markku Tervahauta, Director General at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) told Yle in an interview on Saturday.

The metropolitan area coronavirus coordination group also recommended that Avi maintain previous guidelines on indoor recreational activities for children.

"Placing restrictions on children's daily lives has been considered a last resort throughout the epidemic, and this is something that has also been emphasised by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare," Oona Mölsä, Senior Inspector at Avi stated in a press release.