New restrictions on social gatherings in the Soite area
The Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland placed meeting restrictions on the Soite area. According to these restrictions, the number of participants during events indoors may not exceed 10 people and in confined outdoor spaces a maximum of 50 people may gather. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has published a letter on recommended restrictions for public gatherings. When organizing events, the restriction regarding gatherings that The Regional State Administrative Agency issued on August 23rd 2021 and the facts stated in the letter by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health must be taken into account.
The risk of exposure and the spread of corona infections is particularly high in all situations where a large number of people come together and may end up in close contact with each other. Thus, it is essential to provide anti-infection measures at public events and meetings. In addition to ensuring the ability of the health care system to handle the situation, the restrictions are also intended to ensure that education can be arranged as contact teaching, especially for those who are in primary education.
On Monday 23rd of August 2021, the Regional State Administrative Agency for Western and Inland Finland issued restrictions on gatherings in the municipalities of the Central Ostrobothnia Hospital District (excl. Reisjärvi) in accordance with Section 58 of the Communicable Diseases Act. The restriction on gatherings issued by the agency is based on the joint view that Soite and the regional COVID-19 authority group have presented regarding the situation. According to the decision, the number of participants at public events and general meetings is limited to:
- Max 10 participants during events indoors
- Max 50 people during events in closed-off outdoor spaces
The restriction is in effect from 25th of August to 14th of September 2021.
However, events with more participants can also be organized without a limit on the number of people, if safety can be ensured by following the instructions issued on the 31st of May 2021 by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). The guide directly supplements the obligations of Section 58 c of the Communicable Diseases Act. Read more in the Regional State Administrative Agency’s message (in Finnish)
Following the instructions issued by THL/the Ministry of Education and Culture means in practice that:
- The event organizer must ensure that customers and participants have as much space as is possible taking into account the specific characteristics of the activity. This does not require the constant maintenance of a safety distance of a certain number of meters, but arrangements in which e.g.
- 1) participants have their own seats
- 2) the formation of long queues is prevented by the arrival and distribution arrangements of the participants
- 3) crowds are avoided by the use of taping/roping off areas and placing out security guards and/or by regulating opening hours or the rhythm of activity.
- The organizer of the event may recommend or require that everyone who attends uses a mask, but should take into account that health reasons may prevent some people from wearing a mask. The face mask recommendation should primarily apply to 12-year-olds.
- The cleaning of premises and surfaces should be intensified in addition to what has been specified elsewhere regarding cleaning in the activity in question
The current regulation by The Regional State Administrative Agency does not prevent the continuation of hobby and team sports activities, provided that the activities follow THL’s guidelines: Koronariskin vähentäminen vapaa-ajan liikunnassa ja muussa harrastustoiminnassa (THL).
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health also issues instructions for the organizing of events
In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health issued a letter on 19th of August 2021 with instructions regarding restrictions on public events (in Finnish). According to the ministry’s instructions, low-risk public events and general gatherings may be organized taking into account the following points:
- General hygiene instructions must be followed
- Customers are assigned personal seating or standing places that have been reserved in advance
- Max 75% of the maximum number of seats allowed under other legislation or of the total number of available seats or standing places is used.
- As a rule, during the event, people sit or stand still and participants are instructed to avoid using a loud voice. During the event, the formation of crowds is prevented.
- The organizer will ensure that the instructions they have given are followed.
Regional instructions for event organizers
Soite has prepared guidelines for local event organizers for organizing events that are safe for the health. When organizing events, the meeting restriction issued by The Regional State Administrative Agency on the 23rd of August 2021 and the facts stated in the instructions by The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health must be taken into account. For events of more than 50 people, the organizer must draw up a written plan on how to prevent coronavirus infections. The plan will be submitted to Soite’s team for the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases by e‑mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. If necessary, Soite’s unit for prevention of the spread of infectious diseases will assess the adequacy of the measures presented in the plans.
Soite updates the current regional event organizer guidelines in more detail after the COVID-19 regional authority task group has had its meeting on August 25th 2021.