Freedom of movement in social welfare units may be restricted if necessary
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has issued instructions to social welfare units on how the Communicable Diseases Act and the Emergency Powers Act impact freedom of movement.
Social welfare units comprise assisted homes for the elderly, housing units for persons with disabilities and substitute care in child welfare.
Under Communicable Diseases Act, the units must ensure that patients, clients and personnel are properly protected and placed. To prevent contagion, the head of the unit may issue a ban on visits.
The municipal body responsible for healthcare and social welfare or the Regional State Administrative Agency may also close a unit if necessary.
The movement of individuals within a unit may be restricted for the duration of quarantine or isolation under the Communicable Diseases Act. To restrict movement in a social welfare unit, the door to a quarantine or isolation room may be kept locked from the outside.
Quarantine and isolation decisions are made by an infectious disease doctor or, in urgent cases, by another official doctor for a maximum of three days.
A doctor may place an asymptomatic person in quarantine in a social welfare unit if it is the person’s own home. A person with a disease may also be placed in isolation in a social welfare unit. In such cases, extended hospital care services will attend to the patient.
In addition to the Communicable Diseases Act, the Emergency Powers Act may also used to restrict freedom of movement. To this end, the Government has the option of issuing a decree allowing for further restrictions on the freedom of movement.
The right of older persons and persons with disabilities to move in order to prevent the spread of infectious diseases may be restricted only under the Communicable Diseases Act or the Emergency Powers Act.
In addition, substitute care in child protection is governed by the provisions and conditions contained in the Child Welfare Act on restrictions on children in substitute care.
Child welfare and child family services: Susanna Hoikkala and Annika Parsons, Ministerial Advisers
Services for the elderly: Satu Karppanen, Ministerial Adviser
Services for people with disabilities: Kirsi-Maria Malmlund, Lawyer