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Transport operators adopt mask requirements in many Finnish cities

Passengers in the Tampere and Turku areas must wear masks as of Monday. Oulu has not yet announced such a rule.

Bussi Hatanpään valtatiellä
Masks will be required on Tampere's Nysse buses (file photo). Image: Mari Siltanen / Yle

Mass transit systems in more and more urban areas are requiring passengers to use face masks in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

As of Saturday, all passengers on Helsinki regional public transport (HSL) must wear face masks. The only exceptions are children under the age of 12 and people who cannot wear masks due to medical conditions. No certificate is required to prove such health issues, though.

HSL estimates that about eight of 10 passengers had already been wearing masks before the new rule. It has recommended their use since last August.

A mask requirement also took effect on Saturday on public transport in the southeastern city of Imatra.

Turku and Tampere follow suit, but not Oulu

On Monday, similar rules take effect on Tampere's Nysse and Turku's Föli regional transport services. The Turku area now has the worst infection situation outside of the Helsinki region, with more than 100 new cases reported on Saturday.

Föli operates in Turku, Kaarina, Raisio, Naantali, Lieto and Rusko, while Nysse runs in Tampere, Kangasala, Lempäälä, Nokia, Orivesi, Pirkkala, Vesilahti and Ylöjärvi.

"The coronavirus situation is now so worrying that all means must be adopted," Tampere Mayor Lauri Lyly said on Friday.

Nysse says that the cleaning of buses has been stepped up, and that all doors are always opened at every stop to ensure good ventilation. The mask mandate also applies to trial runs of the city's new tramway.

Other local operators say they plan to also introduce such requirements.

Oulu public transport in northern Finland has recommended face mask use since last August but has not announced such a requirement.

Since Thursday, State Railways VR have also been requiring passengers on all trains to wear masks, except for children and those with medical reasons precluding mask usage.

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