The Finnish government has announced that it will implement a three-week shutdown from 8 to 28 March, during which time bars and restaurants will be closed and secondary and upper secondary schools will shift to distance learning.
At a press conference on Thursday morning, Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that parts of the country currently in the “spreading” stage of the pandemic would move to tier two of the government’s three-tier Covid-19 prevention plan.
The prime minister said the state of the pandemic in Finland had worsened since Christmas, due in part to the spread of the highly-infectious British variant of the virus.
Around three-quarters of confirmed cases in Finland are now thought to be the British strain of coronavirus.
“The tools previously available to us are no longer enough to control the situation,” Marin said.
Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) defended the government’s decision, saying “It is the government’s job to ensure that we provide support both to people and to various sectors to overcome the crisis. With tight restrictions, we can speed up the return to a more normal daily life.”
The new restrictions apply to all regions of Finland except Central Ostrobothnia, Kainuu, North Savo, South Savo, and North Karelia. The government will continue to provide financial support for sectors that have been most affected by the pandemic.