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Ministry: Regional authorities to decide on Covid restrictions

The change could see restrictions on public events as well as outdoor group leisure activities lifted in certain regions.

Hakaniementorilla tehtiin ostoksia ja kahviteltiin aurinkoisessa säässä vappuaattona.
File photo of Hakaniementori market in Helsinki. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has said it will push powers to decide on Covid restrictions back to regional authorities, with central government's 'tier' system being phased out.

The tier system had divided regions into three different tiers -- baseline, acceleration and community transmission -- and issued restrictions and recommendations in accordance with the regional situation.

The change in strategy means that local and regional authorities can now decide on the measures required to tackle the spread of the virus within each area.

In a press release, the ministry said the biggest and most immediate changes are likely to occur in areas previously considered to be in the acceleration phase of the pandemic.

"In these areas, public premises, such as libraries and museums, could be reopened, outdoor group leisure activities could be allowed and public events could be organised with restrictions on the number of participants," the statement said.

The ministry will also send a letter of guidance to municipalities and Regional State Administrative Agencies (Avi's) this week, in which it will specify in more detail which restrictions can be loosened, as well as recommendations on how they should be lifted.

The letter will emphasise that each authority must also take into consideration the pandemic situation in surrounding areas as well as throughout the country when making decisions on the easing of restrictions. Measures may also need to be reinstated or re-tightened in some regions if the situation worsens.

"Additional restrictions are being removed because the threat of a rapid acceleration of the pandemic has also disappeared," the ministry's Head of Department Satu Koskela said at a Monday afternoon press conference.

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