In English: Hygiene and safety instructions for volunteers

These instructions have information on the coronavirus and its risk groups, as well as instructions on how to protect yourself against the infection and decrease the risk of infections in branch operations. These instructions are updated constantly by the healthcare experts of our headquarters.

Updated on 28 May 2020

The restrictions put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic have slowed down the spread of the virus. The risk that the virus will spread remains substantial, however, and the state of emergency will continue. The Government is relaxing the restrictions gradually and any developments in the situation are monitored carefully. The restrictions may be reinstated, if the situation calls for it.

Even though resuming operations to some extent will be made possible according to the new instructions issued by the Government, the Red Cross recommends that the following restrictions be complied with nonetheless:

  1. Help in the time of the coronavirus pandemic will be continued and expanded. All operations adhere to updated instructions concerning safety and hygiene.
  2. Face-to-face group activities and training sessions held by the Red Cross will only be resumed after the summer in the autumn 2020 period.
  3. The continuance of the isolation recommendation of those over the age of 70 or those belonging to risk groups means that people in these groups can still not participate in volunteer activities that require face-to-face contact. Volunteers who belong to a risk group can only participate in volunteer activities remotely.

> Read more about the recommendations issued by branches and districts (in Finnish)

> See the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s instructions on how to protect senior citizens or other at-risk groups from the infection.

The coronavirus is primarily transmitted through droplets and contact, when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The purpose of the restrictions is to protect at-risk groups, in particular, from coronavirus infections, stop the spread of the virus and ensure the sufficiency of health care resources.

How to protect yourself and others

  • Avoid all unnecessary contact with other people, as a person can be infected and spread the virus even if they are asymptomatic.
  • In particular, avoid close contact with anyone who has a respiratory tract infection (cold). 
  • Always wash your hands when you enter your home, before mealtimes and after coughing, blowing your nose or going to the toilet. Close the toilet lid before flushing, because the virus may also be contracted though faeces.
  • Wash your hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use disposable paper towels to dry your hands in public toilet facilities. Do not used shared towels! Use a personal towel at home. If you are unable to wash your hands, use hand sanitiser containing alcohol (hand disinfectant).
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands.
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue, dispose of it and wash your hands. Cough or sneeze into your sleeve if you do not have a tissue.
  • Wear gloves on public transport and in shops and during other errands and maintain good hand hygiene.If you are using disposable gloves, take them off one by one without touching the gloves’ outer surface with your bare hands and dispose of the gloves. Wash your hands.
  • Protective equipment, meaning a mask that covers the mouth and nose and/or a visor or protective spectacles that cover the entire face and disposable protective gloves, should be worn while carrying out volunteer tasks in which:
    • the use of protective equipment is required based on instructions issued by the authorities and
    • that involve contact and close contact with other people.
  • Protective equipment is only effective if worn correctly. The mask has to be put on and taken off using a correct technique, it has to be replaced often and disposed of safely. Therefore, the best way to protect yourself is to ensure good hand hygiene. 

> Read the instructions on the use of protective equipment (in Finnish)

When you encounter a person with cold-like symptoms

  • Do not engage in close contact with the infected person, if possible, and maintain a distance of at least two metres.
  • Protect yourself with a disposable tissue, scarf or other protective equipment and wear gloves.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitiser after the encounter.
  • Do not spend more than 15 minutes in close proximity to the person.

If you have any symptoms and/or you suspect a coronavirus infection

Contact health care services by telephone. You will be referred to testing when necessary.

You can also complete the symptom survey in the Omaolo service. The feedback from the survey will contain instructions on how to access a test and information on how urgently you need to seek medical help.

You can participate in volunteer activities that require face-to-face contact after two symptom-free days.

Protective equipment in various relief operations

Protective equipment means the following:

  • a mask covering the mouth and nose and disposable protective gloves, which are replaced frequently, as necessary
  • a mask covering the mouth and nose, spectacles and disposable protective gloves


Instead of the equipment listed above, you can use a visor covering the entire face, which can be worn for several hours, and disposable protective gloves.

Visors covering the entire face and protective spectacles are not disposable. They must be washed after use.

Surgical masks come in different qualities and their period of use must be verified with the manufacturer.




Remote contact

Telephone relief, chat, etc.

No protective equipment, good hand hygiene.


Encounters with several people over a short period of time (less than 15 min.) while maintaining a safe distance (2 m), if possible. 

A surgical mask or a visor covering the entire face. Disposable gloves at all times.

Close contact*

Encountering a patient with no safe distance (2 m) for some reason and/or the encounter lasts for more than 15 minutes.

Assuming that the patient has been exposed to the virus or has COVID-19.

One of the following:
• a visor covering the entire face 
• protective spectacles and surgical mask.
Disposable gloves at all times.











> See the instructions on the use of protective equipment for more detailed instructions (in Finnish)

 *A visor covering the entire face and a surgical mask must be worn together for tasks with an increased risk of droplets/spatter.

Volunteers can choose to work without protective equipment when carrying out volunteer tasks in which a safe distance (2 m) from other people (the persons being aided or other volunteers) can be maintained and encounters last less than 15 minutes. Good hand hygiene must be maintained at all times.

How your branch takes safety into account in their volunteer activities

  • In all situations, make sure that a volunteer will not endanger themselves, other volunteers or the people being assisted.
  • Avoid training and meetings that require volunteers to meet or be in close contact for the time being.
  • Try to find new ways of providing relief that do not include face-to-face encounters and do not endanger the safety of volunteers or those receiving help. Ensure that a telephone connection or other form of communication is maintained, especially with people at risk.
  • Pay attention to the instructions above on ‘How to protect yourself and others’.
  • A person returning from abroad will be directed to spend two weeks in quarantine-like conditions. They will also not be able to participate in face-to-face volunteer activities during this time.
  • The most important thing is to keep everyone safe. If you are unsure about anything, you can always ask the people in charge at your district for advice or additional information.

More information