Finland to Lift COVID Restrictions When 80% Fully Vaccinated
At present, some 53 percent of Finland's 5.5-million-strong population have received both vaccine shots. Nevertheless, Prime Minister Sanna Marin remains optimistic that a vaccination level of 80 percent will be reached as soon as next month.
The Finnish government has approved a new COVID strategy that bets on fully vaccinating at least 80 percent of the population.
The Social Democrat prime minister said the strategy was geared more towards the opening of society, rather than its predecessor of testing, tracking, and quarantining. Marin explained that the healthcare system's coronavirus tracking efforts have taken a toll on medical services' staffing levels, resulting in delays and unavailable services due to diverted resources.
According to Marin, the current measures are designed to affect people's lives as little as possible economically, socially, and in terms of well-being. This, according to the prime minister, will be achieved primarily through vaccination.
"When we reach 80 percent vaccine coverage, we can lift the restrictions. We will open society and keep it open", Sanna Marin said, as quoted by national broadcaster Yle.
Marin added that once vaccination coverage was adequate, recommendations on the use of protective face masks would be eliminated as well.
"The starting point is based on the premise that when restrictions are lifted they will be lifted in all respects", she said, admitting that the government aims at "much higher" than 80 percent.
At the same time, Marin admitted that the government aims to relax restrictions on restaurants and bars before the desired 80-percent level is reached. COVID-related restrictions on eateries and pubs currently remain in force in swaths of the country. For instance, in the Helsinki metropolitan area, establishments are required to shut down at 11 p.m.
The government also plans to abandon the three-phase system of limiting the spread of the coronavirus and will instead try and keep the disease in check on a more local basis. This will be achieved through the use of the so-called COVID passport, which indicates whether the passport holder has been vaccinated, recently recovered from the illness, or has had a recent negative test result.
As of now, about 53 percent of Finland's population has received both doses of a COVID vaccine. Some 72 percent has had the first of the two shots.
To date, Finland has seen over 131,000 COVID-19 cases, with 1,040 fatalities.