Government announces end to coronavirus state of emergency

The full powers of the Emergency Act, introduced in March for the first time since WWII, will formally expire at midnight on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) arrives at House of the Estates in Helsinki for talks, Monday 15th June 2020 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

The Government of Finland has decided to end the Emergency Act which was brought into use for the first time since WWII in March to give authorities exceptional scope to try and halt the spread of coronavirus around the country.

Some of those measures like closing schools and restaurants have since been lifted or greatly eased but other restrictions that remained in place will now end.

Speaking at a Monday afternoon briefing, Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) says that “based on expert assessments, we have concluded there is no longer a legal basis for the validity of the Emergency Act.”

Ministers say the coronavirus epidemic in Finland is well under control, but Prime Minister Sanna Marin says a number of other special measures introduced during the coronavirus crisis – like restrictions on visits to elderly care homes, and large public gathering – will be discussed in the coming days.

Other recommendations still on the books include strongly suggesting that Finns don’t take foreign holidays – except to six Nordic and Baltic countries – but that too starts to look untenable as EU nations like Spain and Greece open up again and begin to actively encourage holidaymakers.

Officials also said at the briefing that if there is a second wave of infection then restrictions can be introduced again, but ministers have repeatedly said a high threshold needs to be met before emergency powers can be invoked.

“At the moment we are not completely worry-free yet, but everyone still has to follow the recommendations in their daily lives” says the PM.

President Sauli Niinistö has been kept briefed on the end of the Emergency Act which formally expires on Tuesday at midnight.

Coronavirus situation in Finland

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL says there have been four confirmed cases of coronavirus reported in the last day, bringing the total number to 7,108.

There have been no coronavirus-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours bringing the death toll so far to 326 people.

Around the country there are currently 22 people receiving treatment in hospital for coronavirus with three in intensive care.

There are no coronavirus patients in three out of five Finnish hospital regions.