PM prepares restaurant and bar closures, Uusimaa isolation

Opposition parties have called for measures to come into force on Friday, before the weekend, but it's not clear if that can legally happen within the timeframe.

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File picture showing exterior of the House of the Estates in Helsinki / Credit: News Now Finland

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has said again that her government is ready to shut down restaurants and bars, shopping centres, and also impose travel restrictions around Uusimaa region in southern Finland.

However – she’s not putting a deadline on it yet, noting that there are legal issues to consider before curbing some domestic travel rights.

Marin convened a meeting on Tuesday morning at the House of the Estates in Helsinki with representatives of all the political parties in Parliament.

After the talks, Marin told journalists that authorities intend to close “restaurants, and similar spaces where social contact happens.”

There was also a strong ground, and a clear need, to isolate Uusimaa where the majority of cases of Covid-19 have been detected.

“But from a legal point of view, it is extremely challenging to implement. We are preparing to move forward on this issue as well” she says.

Opposition calls for Friday deadline

The National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo has called for a Friday deadline to put the extra lockdown measures in place, especially to enforce the restrictions before the weekend.

Meanwhile former interior minister Kai Mykkänen (NCP) says that all unnecessary movement around the Uusimaa provincial border region should be avoided, but that many jobs require people to travel across the border and that there was no intention to prevent necessary work travel or the transportation of goods.

Although there is cross-party support for more restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus, the National Coalition Party has been critical of the Government for not starting to draft the legislation sooner, and for not doing enough to screen and quarantine passengers arriving at Helsinki Airport over the recent weeks.