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World News

Finland to tighten restrictions on public gatherings

FILE PHOTO: A medical worker wearing a protective suit and a mask takes a swab sample for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test at a drive-through testing station in Salo, Finland August 18, 2020. Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland will tighten restrictions on public gatherings from September, limiting them to 50 people unless further measures are in place, due to a recent rise in COVID-19 cases, authorities said on Monday.

Having allowed up to 500 people to gather during August, the new limits will apply to both indoor and outdoor public meetings, the state administrative agency said.

Public meetings of more than 50 people will only be allowed with strict safety measures in place, such as maintaining good hygiene and a distance of one to two metres between attendees, forcing sports and cultural event organisers to rethink their arrangements once again.

“It is absolutely necessary to tighten the restrictions because Finland’s epidemiological situation has changed in an unfavourable direction and the confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen throughout August,” it said.

Finland’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per100,000 inhabitants stood at 5.2 on Friday, among the lowestrates in Europe, according to European Centre for DiseasePrevention and Control.

But the number of cases has been rising in recentweeks, with health authorities counting a total of 7,871 casesand 334 deaths by Friday.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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