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Tampere region announces fresh restrictions as case counts climb nationwide

Pirkanmaa has now asked residents to avoid gathering in groups of ten or more. 

Taysin julkisivu.
Image: Antti Eintola / Yle

The region around Tampere, Finland's second city, has announced stepped up restrictions as it races to control the spread of coronavirus amid rising infection rates.

Local leaders in Pirkanmaa said at a press conference on Sunday that cases hit a daily record on Friday of 39, prompting meetings on Saturday and new measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

Jaana Syrjänen of the local hospital district TAYS said that contact tracing was still finding the source in two thirds of cases in the region, but pictures of large crowds at Black Friday sales did not look good.

"I'm really concerned when I look at photos from shopping centres," said Syrjänen. "Is the discount so good that you need to go there with everyone else?"

Recent figures mean the Tampere region is on the verge of entering the so-called 'community transmission phase' of the epidemic, and is currently in the 'acceleration stage'.

Library restrictions

Since the spring some 1,190 cases have been recorded in Pirkanmaa, which has a population of some half a million. The positive test percentage was now around 2 percent, when it had been below one for most of the epidemic so far.

Syrjänen said she was also concerned at the recent increase in cases among the over-50s who are at greater risk of more severe disease.

As a result, leaders of the local coordination group announced a series of measures on Sunday. They will now ask managers and politicians in the region's municipalities to implement their recommendations.

Public spaces, theatres and museums will have a limit on visitor numbers for the next three weeks, with audience numbers limited to ten at other events too.

Swimming pools to close

Regional authorities are also recommending that public and private indoor sporting facilities are closed during that period, with swimming pools and saunas advised to close until 21 December too.

Libraries are urged to limit services, youth clubs have been asked to close, theme parks and playgrounds are expected to shut down and adult education colleges have been asked to end term early.

Residents have been urged to avoid unnecessary travel outside the region, particularly to regions in the so-called 'community transmission' or 'spreading' stage. As of 29 November those regions were North Ostrobothnia, Päijät Häme and Uusimaa.

Secondary education, however, will not switch to remote learning in Tampere, unlike in Helsinki where new restrictions were also announced this week.

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