Because of the coronavirus, safe distances should be kept even in nature, and thorough hand hygiene should be followed at huts, campfire sites and after using the toilet. Metsähallitus' policies and guidelines will be updated as the general corona guidelines become more specific. Check our website for the current situation: www.nationalparks.fi/coronavirusguidelines.
Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland will be reopening nature centres, heritage farms and reservable, rental and wilderness huts starting on 1 June. This decision is in accordance with the Government's policies on the opening of public spaces. The safety of customer service points will be ensured through the limitation of customer numbers and implementation of safety distances and hygiene instructions. Meeting restrictions will be taken into account in the arrangements. These decisions will be further developed during May once further instructions have been received. Outdoor etiquette is increasingly important both for protecting nature and for ensuring the safety of others.
Metsähallitus nature centres and Science Centre Pilke are comparable to museums and other public spaces, which have been set by the Government to reopen on 1 June. If the Government lays down rules on the number of persons who may be present in the types of public spaces mentioned above at any one time, Metsähallitus will follow these instructions. The new regulations allow for a maximum of 50 people to be present at different kinds of organised events.
Private companies are responsible for the café and restaurant activities of nature centres. They will be subject to the instructions that the Government will issue for restaurants. However, Metsähallitus does not require café and restaurant companies operating on its premises to reopen if the arrangements required by the safety regulations would impede the profitability of business activities. Some of the restaurants in nature centres and other companies operating at Metsähallitus sites have already been providing take-away services, and these have functioned well. These operations will probably continue over the summer.
The Metsähallitus day huts and wilderness huts that are currently closed will be reopened on 1 June. The reservation system for rental and reservable huts will reopen no later than 27 May, at which point hut bookings can be made for 1 June onwards and also for 2021. During May, Metsähallitus will investigate whether there is reason to limit the permitted number of persons in the huts to a level below their basic capacity in order to maintain customer safety.
Tours and events for less than 50 people may be arranged at national parks and other nature sites. Campfire sites and rest areas are open as normal. As a rule, tours at Heritage Farms will be held outside, and exploration of indoor areas will be carried out independently.
Outdoor etiquette is now particularly important
It has been very cheering to see the enthusiasm of Finns for spending time in nature during the current coronavirus situation. Unfortunately, the number of unpleasant minor incidents has also increased.
‘What we need now is greater responsibility and commitment to following the outdoor etiquette,’ says Timo Tanninen, Director of Parks & Wildlife Finland.
‘We want to spend time in nature precisely because of its natural value. It has recently been seen, however, that this natural value may be endangered by inconsiderate behaviour. We also need to act responsibly in order to prevent coronavirus from spreading in huts, rest areas and nature centres.’
Good hygiene and cleanliness when hiking is now particularly important. For example, Metsähallitus cannot guarantee the hygiene of huts located in the wild, as the cleanliness of these huts situated at hiking locations depends primarily on their users. Therefore, taking along your own shelter (tent or hammock) is a good idea when going for an overnight hike. At the same time, safety distances and hygiene must be carefully maintained at campfire sites and rest areas.
In addition, Metsähallitus encourages the use of its electronic customer services. Up-to-date maps can be obtained from services such as Excursionmap.fi.
Metsähallitus has updated its guidelines on the Nationalparks.fi website at www.nationalparks.fi/coronavirusguidelines. This page will be updated as further instructions become available.
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