Finland going on lock-down in March

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Finnish premier Sanna Marin (left) with Kaja Kallas in Helsinki last week. Source: Office of the Prime Minister of Finland.

Estonia's northern neighbor, Finland, has announced a lock-down for next month amid rising COVID-19 rates, the English-language portal of public broadcaster Yle reports. The move will affect the large number of Estonian citizens and residents who live and/or commute to work there.

Speaking at a press conference Thursday morning, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that a three-week closure of pubs, bars and restaurants would run March 8-22, Yle reports.

Marin said that Finland's situation had worsened in recent weeks, particularly as a result of the spread of a highly-infectious U.K. variant, which makes up around 75 percent of currently reported cases: Marin added that existing restrictions were not sufficient to contain the spread, with parts of the country moving to the second-tier level of the government's three-tier COVID-19 plan.

Estonian premier Kaja Kallas (Reform) visited Finland late last week, highlighting the issue of work-based commuting between the two countries. Sanna Marin said that ways of alleviating this would be looked into, primarily meaning moves towards mandatory testing and certificate harmonization, including vaccination digital certificates.

Currently, Finland's border is closed to everyone except essential workers. This situation was in any case set to run until March 18, after being extended last week.

Finland's current coronavirus 14-day rate per 100,000 inhabitants stands at 111 compared with 820 in Estonia as of Thursday morning. Several hospitals, particularly in the southern, more populous region of the country are at the community transition, I.e spreading, stage, Yle reports.

The tier-two measures in Finland will include capping gatherings of people at six, the closure of public spaces, distance learning for schools, and a ban on group leisure activities for those aged over 12.

The relevant legislation and compensation measures for businesses will be presented to the Eduskuntatalo next week, while the measures themselves were approved at a government meeting Wednesday evening, Yle reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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