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Finland eases coronavirus restrictions for over-70s

Seniors are being advised to use a face mask or other form of mouth covering when they meet others.

Ulkoilijoita kevätsäässä.
Image: Marja Väänänen / Yle

New coronavirus guidelines allow people over the age of 70 to meet others, as long as all parties continue to observe hygiene and distancing recommendations.

Specifically, the updated guidance is for elderly people to ensure that they avoid close contact such as hugging, to continue to wash their hands frequently and to wear a mask when they meet others.

The updated instructions were drawn up by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL, and according to daily Helsingin Sanomat, approved by the Social Affairs and Health Ministry.

The recommendations do not, however, indicate whether or not over-70-year-old seniors are allowed to mingle with grandchildren, friends or other relatives.

"Now that it's summer, go out but maintain a safe distance," THL research head Minna-Liisa Luoma said.

Keep visits short

The agency advised the elderly to keep visits short if they involve meeting at-risk individuals in indoor spaces.

Additionally, the THL recommended using a face mask or other mouth covering when meeting others. Masks should be changed frequently, it added.

Last week the Social Affairs and Health Ministry revised guidelines related to seniors in round-the-clock institutional care.

On 4 May the government announced that from 1 June it would relax restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. However at the time it did not announce any changes to recommendations for over-70-year-olds.

Previously, seniors had been advised to avoid leaving their homes if at all possible. Now however, that blanket guidance is being eased because the authorities believe that the epidemic has been tamped down.

In addition, many elderly people living alone have expressed frustration with their isolation.

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