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Restrictions on gatherings relaxed in Helsinki and Uusimaa region

Two-metre safety distancing and block divisions of auditoriums and other venues are no longer required.

Helsingin Kaupunginteatteri, korona
Audience seating at the Helsinki City Theatre (file photo). Image: Jussi Mankkinen / Yle

Restrictions on gatherings throughout Uusimaa have been relaxed as of Saturday, says the Southern Finland Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi).

The two-metre social distancing requirement and the block division requirement for venues in the Helsinki region have been waived, and up to 50 percent capacity may be allowed in for indoor events.

The Southern Finland Avi made its decision on Friday afternoon was based on an assessment by the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Coronavirus Coordination Group, led by the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). The panel recommended easing restrictions at its meeting on Tuesday.

Pandemic still straining Uusimaa healthcare

The pandemic is still straining the healthcare system in Uusimaa, Finland's most populous region, largely because of expanded testing and tracing. However, according to the hospital district's assessment, the situation has changed so that assembly restrictions can be relaxed. The number of patients in hospitals, including intensive care units, has not changed much since last spring.

The Avi decision is in effect through at least 30 September.

According to Avi Senior Inspector Oona Mölsä, the snap change was possible because of recommendations from health authorities.

"We received a prediction that mitigation [of the pandemic] may be possible soon. And because we are not allowed under the Communicable Diseases Act to retain tighter restrictions and restrict fundamental rights any longer than is necessary, the decision will come into force tomorrow," Mölsä told Yle late Friday.

The Avi will still continuously monitor the situation with the regional coordination group and amend or revoke the restrictions as necessary.

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