Changes to restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 epidemic as of 1 June
The restrictions put in place to mitigate the COVID-19 epidemic are being phased out gradually and in a controlled manner starting on 1 June. The aim is to curb the epidemic while minimising the adverse impact on people, businesses, society and the exercise of fundamental rights. From the beginning of June, certain restrictions will be alleviated, including the restrictions on gatherings, the organisation of events and the opening of public spaces. At the same time, restaurants and cafes will also be reopened to customers with certain restrictions. In line with the Government's decision, travel within Finland is allowed as long as health and safety guidelines relating to coronavirus are observed.
Changes to the restrictions on gatherings and public events
Public events with a maximum of 50 persons will be allowed as of 1 June. The restrictions apply to public events and public meetings organised indoors and outdoors.
Public meetings include demonstrations and other events that are open to all and that are organised to exercise the right of freedom of assembly. Public events include entertainment events, competitions, performances or other similar events that are open to the public. The Government recommends that people comply with guidelines on safe distances and hygiene at these events.
However, the meetings and events referred to in the legislation do not include, for instance, the use of public sports facilities or going to a shopping centre.
Moreover, the restrictions do not apply to private events, such as private parties or private meetings. The Government recommends, however, that people do not organise private events for more than 50 persons. In all these situations, people should remember to keep a distance of two metres from other participants and to observe good hand hygiene and cough hygiene.
Public events and public meetings of more than 50 and a maximum of 500 persons in indoor and enclosed outdoor spaces can be organised under special arrangements. The Regional State Administrative Agencies require that such meetings and events be organised in accordance with the guidelines on the prevention of coronavirus infections issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare on 14 May 2020 (available in Finnish and Swedish). Public events with more than 500 persons are prohibited until 31 July.
The regulations concerning restrictions on gatherings issued by the Regional State Administrative Agencies are of a general nature and do not specify individual events. Event organisers are responsible for arranging events in a way that does not exacerbate the epidemiological situation. Each event organiser or operator must assess how best to comply with the provisions on limiting the number of visitors, maintaining safe distances and observing hygiene guidelines.
Police will monitor compliance with restrictions on gatherings
The police will continue to monitor compliance with the restrictions on gatherings imposed by the Regional State Administrative Agencies in accordance with their powers. The task of the police is to ensure that public meetings and public events are organised in compliance with the maximum number of participants and the Assembly Act. The police will not monitor compliance with hygiene instructions; instead, the organisers themselves must take measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The police will not intervene in other occasional gatherings and private events, unless they pose a threat to public order and security.
Public premises, such as libraries and swimming pools, are reopening
Public premises that have been closed will reopen in a controlled manner starting in the beginning of June. These include national and municipal museums, theatres, the National Opera, cultural venues, libraries, mobile libraries, services for customers and researchers at the National Archives, hobby and leisure centres, swimming pools and other sports facilities, youth centres, clubs, organisations’ meeting rooms, rehabilitative work facilities and workshops, among others.
For example, concerts, theatre performances, film showings, festivals and cultural events are considered public events. These are subject to the decisions on restrictions made by the Regional State Administrative Agencies under the Communicable Diseases Act.
The continuous normal activities of libraries and museums, on the other hand, are not considered public events and are therefore not subject to the restrictions on gatherings. However, the restrictions on public events do apply to events organised by libraries and museums. At all events, the maximum limit of 50 attendees currently in force, or 500 attendees with special arrangements, must be observed.
Sports competitions and series may be resumed with special arrangements starting in the beginning of June, in accordance with the restrictions on the number of persons and other restrictions on public events and with the guidelines of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Culture.
The restrictions on public events do not apply to the normal, continuous activities of swimming pools and sports facilities. However, the operators of sports halls and sports facilities must assess how the guidelines from the authorities can best be applied to the local conditions in order to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
The guidelines issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Culture on 14 May 2020 recommend that camps for children and youth operate in restricted groups of up to 50 persons.
It is also important to take into account the general guidelines on hygiene and other arrangements to prevent the spread of the virus during activities not subject to the restrictions on gatherings.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Education and Culture have issued guidelines on how to prevent coronavirus infections in connection with public events and gatherings and the use of public premises. The Finnish Heritage Agency has issued more detailed recommendations on museum activities, and the Regional State Administrative Agencies have issued recommendations on specific issues related to libraries.
Restaurants and cafes are reopening with certain restrictions
On 1 June, restaurants and cafes throughout the country will be reopened to customers with certain restrictions. The Act on Temporarily Amending the Communicable Diseases Act will enter into force at the same time and be applicable between 1 June 2020 and 31 October 2020. The President of the Republic confirmed the Act and the Government issued a related Decree on Friday 29 May.
Businesses serving food or beverages can be open between 6.00 and 23.00. The serving of alcoholic beverages is permitted only between 9.00 and 22.00. The maximum number of customers inside restaurants is limited to half of normal number.
The Government must regularly assess whether the restrictions laid down in the act and the decree remain necessary in different areas of the country to prevent the spread of the communicable disease.
Businesses serving food or beverages must step up their level of hygiene and ensure adequate distances between customers. Every customer must have their own seat at a table or counter. Customers can pick up their purchases themselves at the counter, for example. However, they are not allowed to serve or dish out their own food or drinks, for example at a buffet table.
Travel within Finland allowed as long as health and safety guidelines are observed
Travel within Finland is allowed as long as health and safety guidelines relating to coronavirus are observed. It is important for tourists and tourism sector operators to be committed to complying with the measures in place to prevent COVID-19 infections. The Government decided on the matter in its written procedure on Friday 29 May.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health have drawn up guidelines for the safe reopening of domestic tourism in Finland. The guidelines will enter into force on 29 May 2020. Tourism companies and tourists are responsible for adhering to the guidelines and for applying them to their activities.
National Police Board media service number (during office hours), tel. +358 50 399 9039, [email protected] (monitoring of restrictions on gatherings)
Esko Ranto, Director General, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 115 (sports and youth affairs)
Riitta Kaivosoja, Director General, Ministry of Education and Culture, tel. +358 295 330 129 (culture and arts policy)
Ismo Tuominen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, [email protected] (food and beverage service business)
Ida Müller, Specialist, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 295 047 033 (travel and tourism)
Paula Tiittala, Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, tel. +358 295 163 744 (travel safety)
Telephone advisory service
The national telephone advisory service provides general information on the coronavirus. The service does not provide health advice or instructions in urgent situations. The advisory service number is 0295 535 535 and it is open on weekdays at 8–21 and Saturdays at 9–15.
Coronavirus: current restrictions – vn.fi
Frequently Asked Questions (in Finnish) – Regional Administrative Agencies
Guidance on the prevention of coronavirus infections in connection with public events and gatherings and the use of public premises (in Finnish)