Finland declares state of emergency (Xinhua/Zhu Haochen/IANS). Image Source: IANS News

Helsinki, March 2 : The Finnish government has declared a state of emergency due to the worsening situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The state of emergency took effect immediately after it was declared on Monday, reports Xinhua news agency.

Addressing the media, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said that the decision was 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 Prime Minister.

Marin 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 the country 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 cases, bringing the country's total to 58,064.

The country's death toll rose by eight to 750.

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