Finland extends coronavirus restrictions by one month

HELSINKI, March 30 (Reuters) – Finland will extend most of its measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak by one month until May 13 from April 13, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Monday.

In recent weeks, Finland has restricted traffic across its borders, banned public meetings of more than 10 people, closed schools for most pupils and urged people to stay at home as much as possible.

Most restaurants have closed after the government urged them to sell only takeaway food last week, although an official decision on that is still pending parliament’s approval.

The government said it was possible schools may not reopen before the school year ends at the start of June.

As of Monday, Finnish authorities have confirmed 1,313 cases of COVID-19 in the country and 13 deaths.

Finland has imposed roadblocks around the Helsinki region, which are currently due to be removed on April 19.

Some Finns have expressed mounting concern over neighbouring Sweden’s lax measures to control the spread of the virus.

The government announced stricter controls on Finland’s western and northern borders with Sweden and Norway, where people have moved back and forth for work freely for decades.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said on Monday evening that the government would seek to impose a two-week quarantine on Swedes and Finns who travel frequently between the two countries.

Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni said more than 280,000 people have been laid off due to the virus, excluding layoffs at companies that employ fewer than 20 people and are exempt from reporting such moves.