The coronavirus situation in Finland has deteriorated at an alarming pace with an incidence rate of 138 per 100,000 residents. As a result, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDchangeding the country’s listing from yellow to red, meaning travel there is not recommended.
Ministers had said that the vaccination rate needed to reach at least 80% before restrictions could be lifted. This was expected to happen sometime in November or December.
However, in early autumn, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) announced that citizens could go out, do things and meet friends and family. Restrictions, including the use of face masks, have been relaxed since late September. These steps have been criticised by regional state agencies battling in the front line of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, some groups, particularly young adults, have been slow or have refused to be vaccinated. The national COVID pass finally introduced last week has further encouraged people to get jabbed. On Monday, the vaccine coverage of those over 12 reached 75.7%. However, comments about an “emergency break” and introducing new restrictions are gaining ground. Hospitals are already prioritising and postponing operations due to the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
Elsewhere, plans to re-open the railway connection between Helsinki and St. Petersburg before Christmas are underway. Russian tourism plays a vital role in the Finnish economy. On Monday, Russia reported 34,325 infections, a record number during the pandemic.
(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)