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PM Marin: Government mulling restrictions on private events

Ministers must go back to the drawing board after a parliamentary committee ruled restrictions on movement were unconstitutional.

Pääministeri Sanna Marin. 31.3.2021.
Prime Minister Sanna Marin led the government negotiations at the House of the Estates, Helsinki on Wednesday. Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

Prime Minister Sanna Marin's (SDP) government will face a fresh headache when ministers return from the Easter break, after the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee ruled that further restrictions on movement proposed by the government were unconstitutional on Wednesday.

Yle asked the Prime Minister for an interview, and Marin answered the questions in writing.

"As Prime Minister, I stand behind the government's proposals and I value the work that our office is doing in a very difficult situation and under a lot of time pressure," Marin wrote.

According to the law committee, the government's bill was "subject to interpretation", and on Wednesday night the government withdrew the proposal from Parliament.

The Constitutional Law Committee instructed the government to focus restrictions where most coronavirus infections are known to occur: during private encounters, in the home and in shops, for example.

The government will now investigate whether it is possible to draft a new legislation.

"Next, we will assess whether there are conditions for submitting a new legislation proposal to Parliament to restrict close contacts by prohibiting private events and meetings. We would also need to determine a schedule for submitting the proposal," Marin wrote.

The Prime Minister further stated that The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) will need to assess whether the proposed bill's effects can be accurately calculated or modeled. Otherwise, it will be difficult to demonstrate the effectiveness of the legislation.

"The effectiveness is linked to the assessment of whether the proposed legislation is necessary and proportionate."

However, restricting gatherings and shopping would not be fully in line with what the government was trying to achieve with its previous proposal.

Restrictions would include banning private events, family gatherings, house parties and going to shopping centres, for example.

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