Reader ‘s opinion In future health crises, different industries must be treated equally

During the coronavirus pandemic, the unfair treatment of industries has been particularly evident in the service-intensive Helsinki region. Legislation must now be prepared to guarantee companies fair and equal treatment in pandemic conditions.

Coronavirus pandemic lessons need to be learned so that we are better prepared to face pandemics and other global health crises in the future. Exceptional circumstances may continue to become the new normal for a long time to come.

In times of crisis, it is particularly important that society and business are not restricted for the sake of security, but that companies are allowed to operate while taking responsibility for jobs, tax revenues and maintaining a healthy living environment. What should be done differently in the future?

First care should be taken to ensure that companies in different industries and their employees are treated fairly. The biggest victims of the corona pandemic have been the most limited companies and their staff, whose job opportunities have been significantly reduced or even eliminated.

The unfair treatment of industries has been blatantly evident, especially in the service-intensive Helsinki region. For example, in the accommodation and catering sector, strict opening restrictions, especially on food and dinner restaurants, forced too many restaurants to keep their doors closed. The effects are huge, especially for the Helsinki metropolitan area, which generates 40 percent of the industry’s turnover in Finland.

Another example is the professional trade fair and event industry, which has been at a standstill for more than a year. Strict restrictions on trade fair activities are difficult to understand or accept. With health safety, restrictions are difficult to justify.

The strict restrictions on trade fair activities are difficult to understand.

A comparative study carried out by the certification company SAFE Asset Group in June shows that Finnish trade fair and event organizers are able to ensure the security of their events and minimize corona risks with the same practices as shopping centers.

Finnish trade fair and event organizers have professional guidelines and practices for the safe opening of events, which meet even the strictest international standards. Yet during the corona, shopping malls have been open, while convention and exhibition centers have been closed.

Now it is time to put in place legislation that guarantees fair and equal treatment for all companies in future pandemics.

At the same time, care must be taken to ensure that decisions restricting and mitigating freedom of establishment do not fall into the administrative silos between politicians, various authorities, regional administrations and municipalities. This has now been the case, for example, in the implementation of guidelines for the control and testing of travel and border traffic, in the preparation of restrictions on movement and in the opening hours of restaurants.

Finnish trade fair and event organizers, shopping centers and companies and employers in various industries are ready to open business safely and responsibly and to support the recovery of Finnish business life.

Markku Lahtinen

Director, Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

Anni Vepsäläinen

CEO, Helsinki Fair Center

Reader opinions are speeches written by HS readers, selected and delivered by HS editorial. You can leave a comment or read the principles of the writing at www.hs.fi/kirjtamielipidekirjoitus/.

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