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Finland bans gatherings of 500+ people

On Thursday the Finnish government announced new measures to fight coronavirus.

Hallitus tiedottaa koronaviruksesta.
Finland's government announced new rules on Thursday. From left: Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni, Family and Basic Services Minister Krista Kiuru, Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Health and Social Services Minister Aino-Kaisa Pekonen. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Finland's government has instructed the organisers of large events to cancel them in an effort to fight the spread of novel coronavirus.

Any event with more than 500 people should be cancelled, and organisers of smaller events have been urged to consider scrapping those as well, according to Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

"Citizens should monitor and comply with travel advisories and must file travel notifications if they must travel. Additionally, major events will be cancelled and of course in their own daily lives, people would do well to especially consider others belonging to risk groups and non-essential activities should also be avoided -- such as hobbies for example," Marin declared.

At a press conference on Thursday, the PM said the government was also recommending that people work remotely if at all possible, consider not going to hobbies and sporting activities, and to use extreme caution around the elderly and other at-risk groups.

The government's position is that it is not yet time to launch broader measures to fight the pandemic, but that it would call together opposition and government parties in parliament to consider preparations to activate emergency preparedness legislation.

That legislation could be used, according to the statement, to implement closure of schools, universities, public transport restrictions, closure of shopping centres and other measures.

Earlier on Thursday the foreign ministry advised people to avoid all travel abroad as another measure to fight the pandemic. People returning from foreign trips should now stay away from work, school or daycare for at least two weeks.

The moves from Finland's government follow Denmark's announcement on Wednesday that it was closing all schools, daycare centres and universities in the country.

Ireland also announced it would close schools in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Edited at 2:55pm 12 March to clarify the government's ban on large events.

Edited at 3.35pm to include a quote from Prime Minister Sanna Marin.

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