Prime Minister: Finland will lift Covid restrictions after 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated

On Monday, the Finnish government approved a new Covid hybrid strategy, according to which at least 80 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated against the disease, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said.

"We open up society and keep it open," Marin told reporters about the stairs of Helsinki Manor at about 5 pm on Monday.

"We made sure that [new strategy's] various measures would have the least possible impact on people ‘s lives economically, socially and [in terms of their] welfare," he said.

Marin said the strategy was more geared towards opening up society than its previous testing, monitoring and quarantine strategy.

The main thing, according to the prime minister, the key to this is more vaccinations.

"Once we reach 80% vaccine coverage, we can remove the restrictions" Marin said.

Asked about a more specific timetable, Marin said the government did not discuss a specific timetable, but noted that the coalition is working to ease restrictions on restaurants and bars before the 80 per cent share is reached.

"That is at least the will of the government," he said.

Coronavirus-related restrictions on eateries and pubs still apply in many parts of the country. For example, in the Helsinki metropolitan area, facilities must be closed at 11 p.m.

On Sunday, about 53 percent of the Finnish population had received both doses of Covid. At the same time, 72.4 percent had one of two jabas.

Meeting in Helsinki

Marin and the members of the board met to discuss the lifting of restrictions related to Covid-19 disease, which has affected the country to varying degrees almost since the beginning of the epidemic in Finland.

Prior to the meeting, Marin said there was a fairly broad consensus among members of the five-party coalition to lift the restrictions.

"The aim is to open up society and vaccinations are key here," he told reporters on Monday afternoon on the steps of the Estate House.

Marin has previously said that restrictions could be lifted once 80 to 90 percent of the population has received both doses of Covid. The prime minister told Yle Radio on Sunday that he had estimated that the share would be reached in October.

The next day, he clarified his previous statements.

"Perhaps the exact expression would be at least 80 percent, but of course we are aiming for much higher [than that]. The premise is based on the assumption that when restrictions are removed, they will be removed in full," he said.

Marin added that when vaccination coverage is adequate, various rules and recommendations for the use of face shields will also be removed.

Questions about testing, tracking and passports

Finland’s current strategy to combat the spread of new cases of Covid includes testing the disease, monitoring the chains of infection and stopping people who may be exposed to the virus.

Marin said monitoring the coronavirus in the health care system has affected the number of health care staff.

"At present, dental and other health services are not available in time because resources are used for follow-up," he said, adding that the matter would be dealt with later.

There is an obvious disagreement between the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) on lowering restrictions and related issues.

According to information received by Yle, the Ministry and THL have differing opinions on how long the restrictions should be applied and, for example, how long Finland intends to continue monitoring infections.

On Monday, THL released data on places where coronavirus infections usually spread – and where such risks were likely to be lower.

The most risky places were bars, nightclubs and big festivals, while the institute said the risks of infection were lower in libraries, cinemas, public transport and school classrooms.

The government intends to abandon the three-step hierarchy of the baseline, acceleration, and spread of the epidemic by region, a system it adopted in September 2020.

Instead, health authorities are trying to control the coronavirus epidemic at a more local level and start using the so-called Covid passport.

Such a document is proof that the passport holder has been vaccinated, has recently recovered from an illness, or has recently had a negative test result.

Prime Minister Marin said on Sunday that the government plans to present its pandemic plans to Parliament in the middle of this month, adding that he expected them to receive swift approval.

Source: The Nordic Page


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