HELSINKI, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The government of Finland plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions once 80 percent of the population aged 12 and over has been fully vaccinated. Prime Minister Sanna Marin said here on Monday that the aim is to remove "all restrictions."
On Monday, the percentage of fully vaccinated residents (two doses) stood at 53.2, and 72.4 percent have received one dose. The government estimated that the 80 percent vaccination rate could be reached by mid-October.
Krista Kiuru, minister for family affairs and social services, said at the press conference that the focus would now be on vaccination.
The new system would include an "emergency brake" should a serious setback be detected. In such a situation, nationwide COVID-19 restrictions could be reactivated, "but the threshold for that must be very high," Kiuru said.
In international travel, controls at the European Union's (EU) external borders could remain in force even after the 80-percent vaccine coverage is reached.
Taneli Puumalainen, director general at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said that several countries have been compelled to slow down their reopening recently, citing Norway as an example. Under the new system, the initial response to an eventual spread of the virus in Finland would be at local and regional levels.
According to Kiuru, certain COVID-19 measures could already be lifted before the 80 percent vaccination level has been reached. However, she did not elaborate, stressing only that various sectors of society should be treated equally.
Over the weekend, the government submitted to Parliament a draft amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act that would remove the requirement for people to observe social distancing of two meters. The rule has been criticized especially by the entertainment and public events industry as it has limited the size of audiences.
In response to a question about the planned elimination of the legal obligation to wear face coverings, Pasi Pohjola, director at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, said that the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has not yet taken a stand on this issue. Enditem