Finland aims to gradually ease COVID-19 restrictions, PM says

Essi Lehto
·1-min read
FILE PHOTO: Restaurants amid COVID-19 restrictions in Helsinki

By Essi Lehto

HELSINKI (Reuters) -The Finnish government plans to gradually begin to ease the country's COVID-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Sanna Marin told a news conference on Friday.

She added, however, that the spread of the virus is still severe and restrictions should not be lifted prematurely.

"Our goal is that when school ends, children can go to summer camps and people can start planning midsummer parties at the cottage," Marin said. Finland's school year ends on June 5.

The government's draft exit plan, which is dependent on the rollout of vaccines, aims to begin with the lifting later this month of a state of emergency that was declared on March 1.

Restaurants are also expected to reopen this month with limited seating and opening hours, a government official said.

In May, travel for business reasons from European Union countries into Finland will be allowed, and in June the plan is to lift restrictions on public gatherings and allow travel from most other European countries. Travel for business reasons from outside the EU into Finland may be permitted from July.

Marin said that the government will allow the public to comment on the exit plan through a website. Last week, it withdrew a home lockdown proposal after it was deemed unconstitutional.

The Nordic nation of 5.5 million people has recorded 80,842 coronavirus infections and 866 deaths, making it one of the least affected countries in Europe. It currently has 235 people in hospital with COVID-19.

(Reporting by Essi Lehto, editing by Terje Solsvik and Edwina Gibbs)