HELSINKI – Tiny exit steps

Following a two-day meeting, the Finnish government presented a very cautious plan on Monday evening (4 May) on how to reopen society. Many economists, however, had hoped for a more courageous approach. 

More on the Finnish response to the novel coronavirus can be found here.

Libraries will be first to open their doors with the borrowing of books and other material being permitted immediately. Also, while outdoor sports activities will be allowed, sports competitions and series have to wait until 1 June.

On 14 May, pre-schools and elementary schools will return to normal but restrictions on universities, vocational schools and other higher learning institutions will remain as remote learning is still recommended for the rest of the term.

While the government hopes for guidelines on border traffic to be decided at EU level, it nevertheless decided that from 14 May, restrictions on cross-border traffic will be lifted along the Schengen internal borders to allow employment or commission-related commuting and other essential traffic. Yet, recreational travel abroad is not recommended. 

The gradual opening of restaurants, museums, theatres, the National Opera, cultural venues, daycare services for the elderly, rehabilitative work facilities and workshops will begin on 1 June.

Gatherings, which can currently only assemble ten people, will be increased to 50. However, public events with more than 500 people are prohibited until 31 July.

The government did leave some restrictions untouched, however.

Working from home continues to be recommended, while anyone aged over 70 years should continue to avoid physical contacts.

According to the government, a return to normal conditions would take about four months.

Two influential institutes from the employers’ and employees’ side, Economic Research (Etla) and the Labour Institute for Economic Research criticised the government for being too cautious, warning that the longer the economy remains at a standstill, the graver the damage.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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