The decrees repealing the use of powers under the Act and the end of the state of emergency will enter into force today, on Tuesday 16 June. The lifting of the state of emergency does not mean that the situation has passed or that there is no longer a risk of a resurgence in the epidemic. The significance of the decision is that the powers under the Emergency Powers Act will no longer be used.
The Government noted that the epidemiological situation and, in particular, the adequacy of healthcare and social welfare services, the capacity of intensive care and the need to protect the population, are no longer such that they require support from measures under the Emergency Powers Act.
If the situation so requires due to a resurgence in the epidemic or for another reason, and the strict requirements are fulfilled, it is possible to reinstate the use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act.
State of emergency in force for three months
The use of powers laid down in the Emergency Powers Act during the COVID-19 pandemic has been based on the assessment that these powers are necessary to protect the population from the consequences of a highly widespread infectious disease and to safeguard fundamental rights and human rights under exceptional circumstances. The use of powers under the Emergency Powers Act has concerned early childhood education and care, primary and lower secondary education, upper secondary education, vocational education institutions, higher education institutions and liberal education, the administrative branch of healthcare and social welfare, working life and restrictions on movement to and from Uusimaa.
The state of emergency also saw the enactment of the Act on the temporary amendment of the Act on Accommodation and Catering Operations (153/2020), which meant that restaurants and other food and beverage service businesses were closed for two months starting on 30 March 2020. The Government has submitted a new proposal for a temporary amendment to the Communicable Diseases Act, which temporarily restricts the activities of food and beverage service businesses until 31 October 2020. This legislation will remain in force even though the state of emergency is being lifted.
Since 17 March 2020, the Government has also made decisions under the Border Guard Act on the temporary reintroduction of border controls at internal borders and, at the same time, on the restriction of external border traffic due to the serious threat to Finland’s internal security caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. The most recent decisions were made by the Government on 12 June 2020 and will remain in force until 14 July 2020.
Various recommendations and guidelines have been issued concerning older people and other risk groups, restrictions on gatherings, public events, youth and club facilities, recreational facilities, sports competitions and series, borrowing items from libraries, public premises, remote work, activities of food and beverage service businesses, commuting, visits to care institutions and hospitals, and leisure travel in Finland and abroad.