The following recommendations are valid in South Karelia. The recommendations are decided upon by the situation assessment workgroup at its weekly meetings. The recommendations will be applied to the authorities, the general public, business operators, and education organisers. It is hoped that private operators will also follow the corresponding recommendations provided to the region.
At the baseline level of the epidemic, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health recommends that the following set of measures be followed in the region:
Protect yourself and those closest to you against a coronavirus infection:
The following measures help prevent the spread of the virus, including any new COVID-19 variants.
- If you develop symptoms, have yourself tested for COVID-19 and stay home.
- Minimise contacts and remember to maintain a 1–2 metre safe distance.
- Wash your hands and cough into your sleeve.
- Use a face mask when moving in premises where there are other people present.
- Keep Koronavilkku activated and follow its instructions.
- Get vaccinated when it is your turn.
The use of a face mask in the Eksote area when the epidemic is at the baseline level:
The use of a mask is recommended in the following situations and for the following persons aged 12 years or older:
- In public transport, including school transport and taxi drivers and passengers.
- In public premises and events.
- In the premises of private service providers (shops, banks, etc.).
- In all work communities, and indoor leisure activities and voluntary work, when there are several people operating and present in the same premises.
- Persons who are to be tested for coronavirus when on the way to the testing location and before the result is known, if they must leave home for a necessary reason.
- Passengers arriving to Finland from a high-risk area, when they move from the point of arrival to quarantine or if they must leave home for a necessary reason.
The use of a mask is always recommended in situations where it is difficult to avoid close contact. Local authorities can, based on their own risk assessment, provide supplementary recommendations for their area. In South Karelia, the face mask recommendation is valid at all indoor and outdoor events.
Customer service points must be equipped with plexiglass shields. Employers must provide masks or protective face shields for customer service workers who work less than 2 metres from other people.
It is recommended that the staff wear a face mask in early childhood education when they are in contact with other adults indoors; this includes other staff members and the parents of the children. Staff can stop using a mask in early childhood education when working with their own child group. As regards outdoor premises, it was already instructed previously that a mask is no longer necessary.
Secure the health of customers and participants
Obligations laid down in section 58(c) and 58(e) of the Communicable Diseases Act must be met in customer and participant premises, at service stations, and in passenger traffic. The sections oblige the operators responsible for the premises specified in the said section to ensure that customers or participants can clean their hands. Operating instructions must be provided to customers and participants regarding the maintenance of a sufficient safe distance to others, the cleaning of hands, and other practices that aim to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In addition, operators referred to in the section must organise the area reserved for the customers and participants as loosely as possible, observing the special characteristics of the activity in question, and to locate any seats reserved for the customers as far from each other as possible.
Section 58(e) provides regulations on the responsibility of traffic operators to intensify the cleaning of surfaces. They are also obliged to ensure that other practices to prevent the spread of infections are followed and the passengers are provided with an opportunity to maintain a sufficient hygiene level on the means of transport, and are also provided with operating instructions, on the means of transport, regarding the maintenance of a sufficient safe distance to others, cleaning of hands, use of a face mask, and other similar practices that prevent the spread of infections.
It is especially important to pay attention to sufficient safe distances in the indoor premises intended for sports, exercising, amusement and recreation, which pose a high infection risk. Here premises mean premises that can be closed with a decision given based on section 58(g) of the Communicable Diseases Act if the epidemic situation becomes worse.
Hygiene requirements must be followed for as long as the temporary section 58(c) of the Communicable Diseases Act remains valid. Based on the current decision, the section will remain in force until 31 December 2021. We recommend that other measures specified in the instructions of THL and the Ministry of Education and Culture to prevent the spread of the coronavirus also be applied in the premises.
Take those belonging to a risk group into consideration
Age is a significant risk factor for developing a severe coronavirus infection. People with a long-term illness are also at a higher risk. (THL / risk groups for severe coronavirus disease: https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases-and-vaccinations/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates/risk-groups-for-severe-coronavirus-disease)
Persons belonging to a risk group and those closest to them are advised to follow the general instructions for reducing the risk of an infection. Persons belonging to a risk group should ensure good hand hygiene and maintain a minimum safe distance of 1–2 metres to others when running errands. Spending time in shops and running errands at peak hours should be avoided.
No changes should be made to the treatment of long-term illnesses. If you develop symptoms typical of a respiratory infection, avoid contact with other people and book a COVID-19 test in accordance with Eksote’s instructions.
If a person close to you belongs to a risk group, support them. Do not visit elderly people or persons belonging to some other risk group if you have any symptoms typical of a respiratory infection. Keep in touch with your family and friends by phone or meet them outdoors.
Continue to avoid close contact and exercise case-specific consideration when visiting elderly people or other persons belonging to a risk group. Avoid the shaking of hands and hugging, wear a mask, and ensure good hand hygiene before and after visits.
Family caregivers and personal assistants must observe the infection risk related to contacts and must also comply with the instructions of the authorities.
Visits to Eksote’s units must be implemented in accordance with valid instructions. Further information can be found on Eksote’s website (in Finnish): https://www.eksote.fi/Koronavirus/asiointijavierailu/
Additional information by THL: Elderly persons and other risk groups – coronavirus instructions https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases-and-vaccinations/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates/risk-groups-for-severe-coronavirus-disease/elderly-persons-and-other-risk-groups-coronavirus-instructions
Restaurants, cafés, and bars:
In areas that are at the baseline level, general hygiene and safe distance obligations are applied, together with the requirement that all customers have a seat when indoors.
General hygiene and safe distance obligations apply:
- Restaurants must notify their customers upon arrival in a visible manner that persons who have symptoms typical of a coronavirus infection are not permitted to enter the premises.
- Restaurants must ensure that the premises are not too crowded and that the seats are located sufficiently far apart.
- Restaurants must ensure that the premises and surfaces are cleaned and that the customers are provided with the opportunity to disinfect their hands.
- Restaurants must prepare a written plan on how they will implement the obligations and restrictions that are applied to their operations and the use of their indoor and outdoor premises.
- All customers must have their own seat at a table or a corresponding surface.
- The seating requirement does not apply to outdoor restaurant activities.
In addition, the following regional recommendations are valid in South Karelia:
Good hand hygiene must still be followed at private events, as well as ensuring, to the extent possible, that face masks are used and a 1–2 metre safe distance is maintained. Persons with flu symptoms must not participate in private events. All gatherings and close contacts outside the home should be avoided whenever possible, which means that careful consideration should be exercised as regards the organisation of and participation in celebrations.
The situation assessment workgroup recommends that the residents do not participate in events organised in regions that are in the acceleration or spreading phase, and that no guests are invited from such areas to celebrations organised in South Karelia.
In early childhood education, child groups can be combined for the summer, but the mixing of staff should be avoided.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and THL recommend that all travelling to Russia, Brazil, South Africa, and India be avoided. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also recommends that all unnecessary travelling outside the EU and the Schengen area be avoided.
Additional information: Eksote: Koronavirus / Matkustajille >>
THL: Matkustaminen ja koronaviruspandemia >>
Ulkoministeriö: Uusimmat matkustustiedotteet >> (in Finnish)
It is recommended that all employers in South Karelia organise remote working in all work tasks that can be completed remotely, even temporarily. If remote working is not an option, it is recommended that the employer advices the employees to use a face mask in all work premises, even when safe distances can be maintained. Meals and coffee breaks must be staggered. Work and business trips and contact teaching events are not recommended. The recommendation for institutions to use remote conferencing is also valid. The remote working and remote conferencing recommendation will remain valid until 31 August 2021.
Group leisure activities for children, young people, and adults:
In group leisure activities, a sufficient safe distance of 1–2 metres and good hand and coughing hygiene must be ensured. Only symptom-free persons can participate in the activities.
It is recommended that training be organised in clear and fixed groups. If the groups are kept small and the composition unchanged, close contact can be permitted during the training.
Public safety must be ensured in matches, competitions, and performances by complying with the valid general recommendations.
Public events can be organised in South Karelia, if the instructions of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the Ministry of Education and Culture for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in connection to public meetings and assemblies and in the use of certain public premises, can be followed.
Further information for event organisers on the Regional State Administrative Agency’s website (in Finnish): https://avi.fi/usein-kysyttya-koronaviruksesta
Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitoksen (THL) ja opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön (OKM) ohje koronavirustartuntojen ehkäisemisestä yleisötilaisuuksien ja yleisten kokoontumisten yhteydessä sekä eräiden tilojen käytössä (in Finnish)
The situation in the rest of Finland and the valid restrictions and recommendations of other hospital districts can be found at: https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/information-on-coronavirus/current-restrictions/hospital-districts. The page can also be accessed through the link found on the Eksote website at www.eksote.fi/koronavirus
The current stage of the epidemic in South Karelia is specified by the infectious disease authorities, together with the regional COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup. The South Karelian COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup includes representatives of the South Karelia Social and Health Care District, the municipalities, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Regional State Administrative Agency, and the local ELY Centre. In addition to the number of and the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the stage of the epidemic depends e.g. on the traceability of infection chains and whether the virus was acquired within or from outside the region. The epidemic situation can change rapidly locally or regionally, even when the national situation is stable. The local COVID-19 situation assessment workgroup meets once a week, unless more frequent meetings are required.