Severity: Warning Alert

Entry/Exit: Finland lifts movement restrictions around Uusimaa Region April 15; other coronavirus measures to remain in place until at least May 13.

This alert affects Finland

This alert began 15 Apr 2020 16:57 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Until May 13
  • Impact: Business and transport disruptions; likely increased employee absenteeism; possible short-term goods shortages

Summary
Finnish authorities have announced that restrictions on travel between Uusimaa Region, including the capital Helsinki, and other parts of the country will be lifted starting April 15. Other measures aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remain in effect.

Officials continue to advise the public to avoid unnecessary travel. Authorities have closed all schools, as well as other types of facilities, including museums, swimming pools, and leisure centers, until at least May 13. Other official measures related to COVID-19 include a ban on all gatherings of more than 10 people, the limiting of nonemergency healthcare services, and the closure of public places.

Restrictions on cross-border travel are currently scheduled to last until May 13. Any worker crossing the borders with Sweden and Norway must possess a certificate from their employer stating that their job is essential; healthcare, elderly care, and rescue services personnel are considered essential. Individuals who work on a permanent basis in the areas along the borders with Sweden and Norway are also allowed to travel across the border but must remain in self-isolation when in Finland. Authorities have also suspended passenger rail services between Finland and Russia.

Foreign nationals are currently prohibited from entering the country, with the exception of permanent residents and EU nationals staying in Finland. Any person arriving in Finland is subject to a mandatory 14-day home self-isolation; essential emergency and freight transport personnel are exempt. Foreign nationals are permitted to return to their home countries. Processing delays at checkpoints are likely for freight transport and those on essential business. Passenger traffic remains prohibited at the Vainikkala border crossing with Russia. On the Finland-Norway border, only the Karigasniemi, Kilpisjarvi, Kivilompolo, Nuorgam, Naatamo, and Utsjoki crossings remain open. On the Finland-Sweden border, only the Karesuvanto, Kolari, Muonio, Pello, Tornio, and Ylitornio crossings are open. Airports have largely closed for international flights, with the exception of Helsinki (HEL), Mariehamn (MHQ), and Turku (TKU).

Panic-buying of essential goods, particularly hygiene products, occurred in many locations when preventative restrictions were first introduced. Additional surges in demand could prompt further temporary shortages in reaction to any high-profile developments around COVID-19, though these will likely be resolved quickly. The school closures will probably result in increased absenteeism among employees who are the parents or guardians of school-aged children. In addition, large numbers of workers will continue to work from home in the coming weeks as a routine health precaution and due to voluntary self-isolation.

Advice
Follow all official Instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel plans and business appointments. Carry proper identification and other necessary travel documents to present at security checks. Plan for processing delays if traveling or routing cross-border freight. Consider delaying travel if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organisation (WHO): www.who.int

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: stm.fi

Border Helpline: +358 50 597 2255