Staring on March 8, Finland will go into a three-week lockdown as the country faces a surge in COVID-19 infections, the Finnish government announced on Thursday.
The new rules will include the closure of bars and restaurants and expanded remote learning in a large part of the country, including the capital region, but there will be no curfews.
At a press conference on Thursday, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that the measures currently in force were no longer enough to control the situation, and the rapid spread of the virus variant first identified in Britain was a major reason for concern.
Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson told the press conference that Finland was not activating the emergency powers legislation that was used last spring. “There will not be curfews,” Henriksson said.
Marin agreed that there was no need for the time being to activate further emergency powers, such as the right to restrict the movement of residents, but said that it could happen at a later stage.
According to the government, there will be a shift to distance education for secondary and college students. Group hobby activities will be suspended for people aged over 12.
Bars and restaurants will have to remain closed, but takeaway services will be allowed. Recently infection clusters have been reported from restaurants, especially among students.
The government plans to submit a proposal on the new rules to the country’s Parliament next week.
According to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the incidence rate in Finland was 62 infections per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to 46 infections per 100,000 inhabitants a week earlier. However, in the Helsinki area, the rate for two weeks was 246 per 100,000 inhabitants.
As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.