Following several meetings, the Finnish government has found a mutual understanding in lifting some of the restrictions related to travel and events.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) arriving at the House of the Estates in Helsinki to lead another meeting related to lifting coronavirus restrictions on June 11, 2020. Picture: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today

Next Monday (June 15), if a person arrives in Finland from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Denmark or Iceland, there’s no need to enter a voluntary quarantine.

The government decided on lifting some of the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday.

However, should one travel to Finland from a country with coronavirus-related border restrictions, for example, from Sweden, Germany or Russia, the traveler should limit moving around to the distance between workplace and home for the following 14 days. That’s what voluntary quarantine means.

The government also decided to lift border control from the border between Finland and Norway, and the government decided to lift restrictions from the airline and ferry traffic between Finland and Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And should one attempt the legendary fisherman’s trip with a boat from Tallinn to Helsinki—or from any other country on the “accepted list”—one is welcome to do so.

Finns should avoid foreign travel for leisure, according to the government, to any other country than Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The government also noted that travel to Finland is acceptable for a good reason (family matters, personal reason, an apartment) for any foreign citizen from the EU or a Schengen country or a third-country citizen with a residence permit in Finland. Travel to work from the EU or Schengen countries and Great Britain is also allowed.

These new regulations are in effect until July 14.

Ville Skinnari (the SDP), the minister for development cooperation and foreign trade, arriving at the House of the Estates. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

The government also decided to amend the regulation related to public gatherings of 500 people, which is the current limit until July 31.

Beginning on July 1, the limit of 500 can be exceeded if the event can provide a seat for every patron, or that the public can be placed on stands or areas limited to a maximum of 500. The safe physical distance between the spectators should be guaranteed, and hand sanitation should be available.

Amid minister changes, the government is following the developments in the coronavirus pandemic with scrutiny.

On Thursday, the government summoned for another session of talks related to the pandemic. The focus was on the questions related to returning to a state close to normal. Do we still need to limit public gatherings of over 500 people and should the borders be opened for travel? The pandemic has been slowing down in Finland for weeks, and these questions were now answered.

In an overview of their decision-making process related to lifting restrictions the government noted that “although the threat of the spread of the coronavirus and the escalation of the pandemic still exists, the current epidemiological assessment suggests that the situation, in particular the adequacy of healthcare and social welfare services and the capacity of intensive care, will not necessarily need to be supported by the measures taken under the Emergency Powers Act after June 30. “

“We need to be careful when deciding to lift the restrictions,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) said before the meeting on Thursday at the steps of the House of the Estates.

The Emergency Powers Act will remain in force until June 30. This date was based on the estimate that the state leadership needed more power “to protect the population from the consequences of a highly widespread communicable disease and to safeguard fundamental rights and human rights under emergency conditions.” The government noted that “the aim has been to ensure the adequacy of healthcare and social welfare services and to safeguard the carrying capacity of intensive care during the crisis.”

Tony Öhberg