Finland declares coronavirus state of emergency

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Finnish premier Sanna Marin. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Finland declared a state of emergency Monday entering into force with immediate effect, public broadcaster Yle reports, reversing a course of action Estonia had earlier hoped for in relation to work commuting between the two countries. The Finnish government made the decision as a way to fight rising COVID-19 rates.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced the decision at a press conference Monday afternoon, Yle's English-language page says.

Marin's Estonian counterpart, Kaja Kallas (Reform), visited Helsinki last month, partly to plead the case for working towards solutions in permitting commuting between Finland and Estonia, given the strong ties between the countries and the large Estonian workforce north of the Gulf of Finland which must now, as last spring, decide which side of the water they want to be on.

While Marin said at last month's press conference with Kaja Kallas that her government would work on the issue, Monday's decision, which was not unexpected by any stretch, likely renders it moribund.

Helsinki's state of emergency announcement was followed by an expected move to close restaurants, bars, and other eateries and hostelries for a three-week period, from March 8, though with take-out and delivery services, and also work-place restaurants, still permitted to work.

This ruling requires special legislation, which should take several days to implement, and state support is likely to follow for affected areas.

Sanna Marin made the decision in colloboration with the head of state, President Sauli Niinistö, Yle reports, while Marin told the media that the current Emergency Powers Act would not require beefing up for the time being.

Finland, with a population of 5.5 million, posted 720 new coronavirus cases last Friday, a record number for one day at the time. Estonia, with a population of 1.3 million, has recently been posting over 1,000 new coronavirus cases daily and currently has one of the highest 14-day rates per 100,000 inhabitants in the EU.

Marin also said Monday that a new set of restrictions concerning gyms, sports centers and similar was being worked on, in conjunction with local government, and issued a renewed plea for public unity in following coronavirus restrictions.

"Everyone can influence what spring and summer looks like," Marin said.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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