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PM: Covid pass use may be rejigged; THL director sceptical

Commercial broadcaster MTV reports that the government plans to overhaul use of the Covid pass, but a top health official is doubtful about the idea.

Most cafés and restaurants still require customers to show a Covid pass. Image: Mia Sivula / Yle

The use of the Covid pass was restricted in late December, but according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP), its use could be expanded once again as part of new coronavirus measures to be announced this coming week, reports Finnish commercial broadcaster MTV.

The function of the pass is likely to change though, Marin told MTV on Saturday evening. The Finnish coronavirus pass, introduced in October, is based on the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

Marin said that the pass should be turned into an independent tool that is not used solely to circumvent restrictions. Booster vaccinations and the role of Covid tests could also change the use of the document, she said.

"We must assess whether the use of the pass can be circumvented through testing. In that case, people who have not been vaccinated may be exposed to the illness," Marin said.

Salminen sceptical about Covid pass

On Sunday, Mika Salminen, director of health security at the national health institute THL, expressed scepticism about continued use of the Covid pass.

"If the pass doesn't prevent the spread of infections, then one can ask if it is needed at all, even when travelling. If it is the case that vaccines don't prevent infections, even if they prevent illnesses, then the entire basis for the pass would fade away," he said in an interview with MTV.

As the use of the Covid pass is based on EU legislation, any reconsideration of its use must take place at the European level, Salminen said.

More restrictions on bars next week?

The government plans to meet early next week to discuss new restrictions on restaurants, among other measures aimed at reining in the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

According to Antti Neimala, head of the employment department at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, rules for restaurants will be made on the basis of the guidelines issued by a ministerial working group late last week. Preparations are being made jointly by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

The working group is planning additional restrictions on bars and restaurants whose main business is selling alcoholic beverages, Neimala told the Finnish news agency STT.