(Sept. 1, 2020) On August 13, 2020, the Finnish government issued a resolution on recommendations for wearing face masks in public, echoing recommendations made earlier the same day by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.
In accordance with the new recommendations, people in the country should wear masks when they are
- in public transport where it is difficult to avoid close contact with others;
- on their way to take a coronavirus test, or are waiting for the test results and have an urgent reason to be outside their home; or
- traveling to a place of quarantine after arriving in Finland from a high-risk country or have an urgent reason to be outside their home during quarantine.
In addition, masks should be worn in all situations where a physical distance of 1 to 2 meters (3 to 6 feet) cannot be maintained. The recommendation to wear masks applies to all regions where coronavirus spread has been detected within the two most recent weeks. As of August 27, 2020, this included most, but not all, regions in Finland.
Responding to the mandate to wear masks in public, the Finnish Tax Authority on August 19, 2020, published guidance explaining that residents can deduct the cost of purchased masks on their income tax form provided that their employer has not provided them with masks. The cost of masks worn at work can be deducted as a work expense, while those worn while traveling (for instance, when using public transportation) can be deducted as a traveling expense using the standard deduction of 2 euros (US$2.70).
Following the announcement, several local municipalities reportedly began providing masks free of charge to less affluent residents. Early reports indicate that overall the price of face masks has dropped since the recommendation to wear masks was issued.
A previous survey commissioned by the Finnish public service media company Yle and conducted in May showed that a majority of Finns were not in favor of mandatory face masks.