Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Finland to tighten COVID-19-related international travel restrictions from July 27; travel and business disruptions remain.

  • Alert Begins: 24 Jul 2020 08:04 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 10 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Business and travel disruptions

Summary
Authorities in Finland will suspend entry for travelers from Australia and Algeria from July 27 due to an increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection rates in those two countries. Authorities will also reimpose internal border controls for travelers arriving from Austria, Slovenia, and Switzerland; travelers from these countries, as well as Spain, Luxembourg, Portugal, Poland, France, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, which were previously added to the list, will be urged to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

As of July 27, there will no internal border controls for travelers from Andorra, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, San Marino, Slovakia, and the Vatican. Travel will also be permitted without restrictions for several non-EU states such as China, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, and Uruguay; travel to and from these countries was permitted only for essential and work purposes until July 27.

Travel for all but essential purposes is prohibited from all other countries. Travelers from countries with which restrictions remain in force may be requested to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.

Previously, authorities permitted most nonessential businesses to reopen, including shops, catering establishments, cultural institutions, and educational facilities, provided they implement strict social distancing and hygiene requirements. Gatherings of over 50 people remain prohibited without prior consent from authorities.

Background and Analysis
The easing of measures in Finland is similar to actions undertaken by other regional governments in recent days in response to lower infection rates of COVID-19. As countries relax blanket restrictions across Europe, authorities could begin to reintroduce sporadic, highly targeted measures in response to local COVID-19 outbreaks. Such measures could apply to neighborhoods or specific facilities, including schools, factories, or accommodation and office blocks. Mandatory social distancing procedures in public places and on public transport, as well as widespread voluntary “self-policing” by residents, will assist in reducing the potential for contagion, negating the necessity for a large-scale, blanket reintroduction of significant restrictions.

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

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, and 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.


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