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Uusimaa shops, gyms must ensure two-metre safety distance

The new measure does not apply to bars, restaurants or businesses with fewer than ten employees.

Dörr där det står Regionförvaltningsverket i Södra Finland.
Southern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) has introduced new measures aimed at tackling the spread of coronavirus in the capital region. Image: Yle/ Christoffer Gröhn

Guidelines aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus are set to be tightened in the Uusimaa region, which has seen the country’s highest number of new infections.

Starting from Thursday 25 February, businesses such as shops and gyms that have more than ten people on the presmises at any one time must ensure that people keep a safety distance of more than two metres from each other.

In outdoor situations, the two metre gap must be ensured when there are 50 people or more.

However, the new measure does not apply to bars or restaurants, as separate restrictions on their operations are expected to be decided by the government. The law also does not apply to smaller premises or companies with less than 10 employees.

In a press release on Wednesday, Southern Finland’s Regional State Administrative Agency (Avi) said that it was introducing the guideline using new powers granted to regional authorities via government amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act last week.

This amendment allows Avi to impose restrictions on private businesses operating within the Helsinki University hospital district (HUS). Previously, regional authorities have only been able to introduce measures on their own municipally-run facilities.

According to Avi, the new law also requires businesses to produce a written plan on how they will prevent close contact between customers.

Close contact is defined by Avi as physical contact or being within two metres of another person for more than 15 minutes.

The means of maintaining safety distances can be determined by the businesses themselves. If it is not possible for the business to organise their operations in a manner required by the measures, the facilities cannot be used, Avi's press release stated.

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