Photo: HSL / Lauri Henriksson

Helsinki distributes free masks to people in need

On Friday, 21 August at 10 am, the City of Helsinki started handing out face masks to low-income residents at several open distribution points in city, parish and charity-administered locations. A list of distribution points is available on the city website.

The Finnish health authority recently recommended that people in most areas of Finland use masks in situations where it is difficult to avoid close contact with others, for example, on public transport. The Finnish government has mandated that municipalities must make cost-free face masks available to low-income residents accordingly.

The City of Helsinki began distributing free masks already on 19 August to people visiting customers of healthcare and social service locations in the city. Now this distribution has been expanded to several new locations, in collaboration with food aid service points and parish, NGO and third sector operations.

The Finnish Institute of Health and Welfare (THL) recommendation applies to everyone over the age of 15, and so the distribution of face masks applies to this same demographic.

Face mask distribution points in Helsinki

An up-to-date list of Helsinki distribution points and schedules can be found on the City of Helsinki website.

In principle, Helsinki residents are themselves responsible for using the masks as recommended. This includes purchasing the appropriate masks and other attending costs. However, no one’s financial situation should present an obstacle to complying with the recommendation. The distribution of free masks in Helsinki is based on trust; staff at the distribution points will not ask anyone for proof of their need.

The City of Helsinki is distributing free masks in cooperation with Helsinki parishes and the Finnish Red Cross. Several other charity organisations, such as the Myllypuro food distribution service and the Hursti Charitable Trust, are assisting with the effort.

Remember to use face masks carefully

THL recommends the use of face masks on public transport and in all situations in which close contact cannot be avoided. In addition, people in transit to and from a covid-19 test and those waiting for test results should use a mask in public, as should travellers arriving in Finland from an area still subject to border controls.

It is important to use face masks correctly, to avoid the spread of infection. Please check the THL website for instructions and a checklist for mask use.

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