June 15, 2020 / 1:04 PM / a month ago

Finland withdraws emergency powers act as virus spread slows

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland is withdrawing the emergency powers act that parliament adopted in March to tackle the coronavirus as the infection rate has slowed and exceptional measures are no longer needed, the prime minister said on Monday.

Sanna Marin said there were no longer legal grounds for the government to keep the emergency legislation and the state of emergency would end at midnight on Monday.

“It doesn’t mean the threat of the virus spreading would be over,” she said.

There were 26 hospitalised COVID-19 patients and only one person in intensive care on Monday across Finland, the government said, adding there had been around 15 to 25 new cases a day for several weeks, totalling at 7,104 on Sunday.

“The emergency powers act, which restricts citizens’ basic rights, cannot remain valid any longer than absolutely necessary,” Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said.

Marin said certain restrictions, such as those given to restaurants to reduce night-time opening hours and the number of customers they accept indoors, would remain in place but would be enforced through ordinary legislation.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Alison Williams and Edmund Blair

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