Thursday December 09, 2021

Mask use, remote work recommended in metropolitan area

Published : 24 Nov 2021, 02:49

  DF Report

DF Photo by Anurup Das.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has decided to tighten the face mask recommendation in its region against the backdrop of the worsening coronavirus situation.

With this decision, the metropolitan area will return to a broad face mask recommendation for all persons aged 12 years and older, regardless of the level of vaccination coverage, said the City of Helsinki in a press release on Tuesday.

The mask recommendation will enter into force immediately and employers are urged to take immediate action to enforce the remote work recommendation. The recommendations are in force until 16 January 2022.

The use of face masks is recommended in all indoor public spaces and on public transport where other people are present.

The use of face masks is therefore also recommended in educational institutions from the sixth grade onwards.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group has also decided to return to a broad remote work recommendation.

The coronavirus coordination group hopes that the face mask recommendation will also be widely adopted by private operators. It is recommended that private operators require staff and customers to wear masks at public events, in shops, on public transport and other customer premises.

The Helsinki Regional Transport Authority (Helsingin seudun liikenne – HSL) and the national railway operator VR are recommended to reinstate the mask obligation for public transport in the metropolitan area as soon as possible.

The coronavirus coordination group also recommends that employers organise remote work in all jobs where it is possible, even on a temporary basis.

If remote work is not possible, it is recommended that the employer encourages the use of a face mask in all work areas, even if safety distances can be maintained.

At workplaces, lunch and coffee breaks should be staggered and the need for personal meetings should be carefully assessed.

The Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group calls on the government to introduce stricter restrictions on the restaurant industry and to bring forward the third round of vaccination

Rising infection rates and the strain on hospital care require urgent action from both regional operators and the government.

The coronavirus coordination group considers that in the current epidemic situation, the opening hours of restaurants should be more restricted and serving alcohol should be stopped earlier than at present.

The group recommends that all restaurants in the metropolitan area require the COVID-19 passport from their customers during all opening hours.

All restaurants and cafés have the opportunity to adopt the COVID-19 passport and thus be exempt from the restrictions on the number of customers. If a restaurant does not adopt the COVID-19 passport, the customer capacity will currently be limited to 50% for restaurants serving alcohol and 75% for other restaurants.

The group also wants to push for an earlier interval for third doses of the vaccine, up from the current six months, and for the possibility of vaccinating 5–11-year-olds, should the safety evidence for vaccinating children be deemed sufficient in the assessment of the National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (KRAR).

Bringing forward the third round of vaccination is an important way of preventing the spread of the epidemic and managing the burden on health services.

The Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, and the Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland established the Metropolitan Area coronavirus coordination group on 10 September 2020.

The City of Helsinki is responsible for organising the group’s operations. In addition to the Cities of Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa, the City of Kauniainen also follows the restrictions and recommendations of the coordination group.