Sat, 17 Apr 2021

HELSINKI, March 1 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish government declared Monday a state of emergency due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The state of emergency would take effect immediately, a press release from the Prime Minister's Office said.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at a press conference that the decision is based on section 3 of the Emergency Powers Act that states that "a widespread outbreak of a serious infectious disease, the effect of which is comparable to a major disaster, meets the definition of a state of emergency."

However, the Act will not be deployed at this time. Instead, the government submitted a bill to parliament that would make it possible to enforce the closing of restaurants in parts of the country from March 8 for three weeks. The areas to be included would be decided once the parliament has approved the law, according to the press conference.

The prime minister said the legislation used to close restaurants is similar to the one applied from March till May in 2020. Workplace canteens and institutional restaurants not open to the public will be excluded. Takeaway sales will be allowed to continue from all restaurants but outside terraces cannot be used for catering. Financial compensation for restaurant operators is being planned.

Marin also said the introduction of restrictions on movement may be necessary, adding that the situation will depend on how the pandemic progresses.

The two-week COVID-19 occurrence rate in Finland has risen to 128 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare said on Monday. In the Uusimaa district including the capital Helsinki, the rate is 254 per 100,000 residents.

On Monday, Finland reported 392 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 58,064. The country's death toll rose by eight to 750.

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