Finland COVID19 response
Information relayed by the Fundamental Rights Agency (May 2020):
As indicated in 1.2.2., the closing of schools has impacted also children with disabilities. In accordance with Section 3 of the Government Decree No. 191/2020 on distance education, children with special needs are entitled to contact teaching, provided that the guardian does not request that the teaching is organized through distance education. The schools are obliged to provide regular support services to children with special needs, however, in the present circumstances, only to the extent possible. This is the case also if the teaching is organised in the home.
Based on a survey among member organisations, the Finnish Disability Forum (Vammaisfoorumi/ Handikappforum) highlights challenges caused by the covid-19 in the daily lives of persons with disabilities. These include concerns regarding the right to health care if infected, access to essential maintenance services (e.g. wheelchair repairs), access to personal assistants and their personal protection, home care of persons with disabilities when support services are reduced, and continuation of services brought into the home.
The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare has in the handbook for disability services included a section on covid-19-related instructions and recommendations issued by different authorities and organisations, such as the Ministry for Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the Finnish Social Insurance Institution. 50 These include the provision of adequate interpretation services for persons who are illiterate or do not understand Finnish and Swedish, the application of prescribed time limits when assessing service needs of persons with disabilities also during emergency, the need to ensure that possible prohibitions to visit institutional care units are proportionate to the aim pursued and are not limiting the right of a disabled person to visit his or her family home, and the requirement that the door to the room of a person with disability can be locked only in case a medical doctor has ordered the person to stay in quarantine or isolation under the Communicable Diseases Act (see 1.2.1).