There will be no festivals in Finland during the peak summer months of June and July this year, after the government decided to extend restrictions brought in to fight coronavirus.
Public events of more than 500 people will be prohibited at least until 31 July, Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced at a press conference on Wednesday evening following discussions between the five-party coalition government.
A decision on events that are planned to be held in the late summer and autumn will be taken at a separate meeting, projected to take place in early June.
The continued restriction will impact such popular summer music and cultural events as Ruisrock, Pori Jazz and the Helsinki Festival. Savonlinna Opera Festival, set for July and for which more than 30,000 tickets had already been sold, will also not raise its curtain as planned.
According to Marin, the government believes it is possible for Finnish society to move gradually and in a controlled manner from extensive socially restrictive measures to the next stage of epidemic management, in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act. However, not all restrictive measures can be lifted at once as the "situation is still serious", according to PM Marin.
The government's main aims are to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, to safeguard the capacity of health care workers to do their jobs, and to protect people in at-risk groups, Marin added.
Further decisions on schools, businesses expected soon
Earlier on Wednesday, Minister of Education, Li Andersson, told reporters as she left the meeting at the House of the Estates in Helsinki that the timetable for the re-opening of schools would be decided before 1 May. Schools across Finland are currently closed until 13 May.
Employment Minister Tuula Haatainen meanwhile said that a potential support package for businesses in the hospitality and restaurant sector will be reviewed by the government's coalition partners later this week.