Finland will extend current coronavirus regulations till mid-February, following which restrictions will be phased out, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Sanna Marin.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday after lengthy talks between the five-party government coalition, the minister said that the government will continue updating its coronavirus strategy for the next two weeks to determine how and when restrictions on public events and restaurants can be lifted.
"We are already looking past this Omicron wave; that is, we have started preparing for how restrictions can be lifted after mid-February," she stated.
The primary exception is restrictions on indoor recreational activities for children and young adults, which the government wants to end immediately. Additionally, based on advice from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), authorities will stop imposing border controls with Schengen countries from February onwards.
Higher education institutions are also recommended to switch to a hybrid teaching strategy, which entails alternating between distance learning and contact teaching, after January.
"We are concerned about the situation of young people who have had to spend a significant amount of their time during higher education in distance learning," Marin said.
According to Marin, the government plans to expand the use of the coronavirus pass with the aim of turning it into an "independent tool" that is not used solely to circumvent restrictions.
Ministers also discussed the legal challenges involved in switching to a vaccine-based pass on Tuesday. Implementing a mandatory vaccine pass would mean that proof of a negative coronavirus test result would no longer be sufficient to gain access to services.
According to Marin, another key issue with the pass is that it excludes those who have developed sufficient immunity after contracting the virus but did not receive an official medical statement from a doctor for the same.
The prime minister also said that the government does not have plans to enact any emergency laws any time soon. A key aim of the government, according to Marin, is to encourage people to take the third vaccine dose.
THL estimates that the ongoing Omicron wave will reach its peak in Finland in the next 2-3 weeks.