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MPs begin wearing face masks in Parliament

Parliament adopted a mask rule for plenary sessions after the THL expanded face mask recommendations on Thursday.

Kristillisdemokraattien kansanedustaja Sari Essayah sekä kokoomuksen kansanedustajat Timo Heinonen ja Ben Zyskowicz eduskunnan täysistunnossa Helsingissä 1. syyskuuta.
File photo. From left: MPs Sari Essayah (CD) and Timo Heinonen (NCP) wearing masks during a plenary session on 1 September. MP Ben Zyskowicz (NCP) is maskless at right. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Lawmakers in Finland began wearing masks during Parliamentary plenary sessions on Thursday, following new recommendations on their use by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL.

The THL has expanded existing guidelines on wearing masks, which were previously recommended for use mainly on public transport. However on Thursday the public health agency recommended that masks should also be used in indoor locations and at public events where distancing is difficult or impossible.

It specifically cited upper secondary and vocational schools, universities and other institutions as places where the recommendation should be applied.

At the time it said that the recommendations should kick in during an "acceleration" phase of the epidemic and noted that overall, Finland is in a "basic" or stable phase.

However nine hospital districts, many of them in southern Finland are seeing an acceleration of infection rates. This means that the mask recommendation should be applied in those locations.

Listen to our All Points North podcast discuss how Finns seem reluctant to use masks. You can listen via the embedded player here or via Yle Areena, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or your usual podcast player using the RSS feed.

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Audio: Yle News

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On Thursday afternoon the Parliament issued a statement saying that the THL’s mask recommendation would be taken into use during plenary sessions. Since coronavirus precautions have been in place at the chamber only 74 of 200 MPs are allowed to participate in sessions in person at any one time.

Meanwhile chambers reserved for parliamentary committees have been organised to conform to distancing requirements. So far Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has quarantined on more than one occasion over concerns that she may have been exposed to the virus.

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