On Wednesday, June 17, Hanna Kosonen, the Minister of Culture and Science, announced at a press conference that the government will continue to relax restrictions imposed to reduce the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The easing of restrictions is conditional on the number of COVID-19 cases remaining under control. If the epidemic does not worsen, events with more than 500 attendees will be permitted from August 1, both indoors and outdoors, providing certain social distancing and hygiene measures are adhered to. The government has already allowed events of up to 500 people to take place as long as organizers can control the number of attendees and limit close contact between them. The government plans to lift all restrictions on public gatherings on October 1.
As well as the announcement on public gatherings, it was also announced on Wednesday that restrictions on restaurants will be further relaxed. Bars, cafes, and restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol between 09:00 and 13:00 (local time) and to stay open from 04:00 and until 02:00 as of Monday, June 22. The limit on the number of customers allowed will be raised from the current capacity limit of 50 percent to 75 percent.
Finnish authorities eased certain border restrictions on Monday, June 15. The land border with Norway is now open without controls, and air and ferry services may resume with Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; arrivals via private vessels are also permitted. Entries from all other countries are limited to essential purposes only, as well as commuting for all citizens of the Schengen Area and the United Kingdom (UK). Restrictions on Schengen and UK citizens will reportedly be lifted soon, and all other countries are to see their restrictions lifted on July 14. As of June 15, all arrivals to Finland (other than those that have had their restrictions lifted) are to enter self-isolation for a period of 14 days. Individuals are permitted to move to and from their home and their workplace, as well as leave their homes for essential purposes while self-isolating. Travel around Finland is permitted, and restaurants, cafes, and bars were reopened on June 1, with restrictions.
As of Thursday, June 18, authorities have confirmed 7119 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 326 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone non-essential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.
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