Finnish prime minister withdraws COVID-19 lockdown proposal deemed unconstitutional

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - The Finnish government is holding talks about how to restrict the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Sanna Marin tweeted on Wednesday after withdrawing a lockdown proposal from parliament.

The proposal to largely confine people to their own homes in areas with most infections was deemed too imprecise by the constitutional law committee of parliament.

"It would be impossible for residents to predict what is prohibited, allowed or punishable," committee chairperson Antti Rinne said, but acknowledged that the arguments for more restrictions were justified.

Last week the government proposed locking down residents of five cities, including the capital Helsinki, and only allowing people to leave their homes for limited reasons, to curb rising coronavirus infections and hospitalisations. [L8N2LM6G9]

The committee said the wide-ranging proposal should be changed to targeted restrictions for where the risk of contracting the virus was significant, such as private gatherings and crowded places such as shops.

The Nordic nation of 5.5 million people has recorded 77,452 coronavirus infections and 844 deaths. It has been praised for its handling of the pandemic and has been among the least-affected countries in Europe. It has 295 people in hospital with COVID-19.

(Reporting by Johan Ahlander and Essi Lehto; Editing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Gareth Jones)