On September 11, the government adopted a decision on restrictions on border traffic, which will enter into force on September 19 and continue until October 18.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (the Green League) explaining the new travel policy in a press conference in the Government Palace on Friday, September 11, 2020. Photograph: Laura Kotila/The Finnish government

On September 19, travel bans will be lifted for traffic between Finland and Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Poland and Sweden, as well as for residents of Australia, Canada and Japan who are traveling from their home country to Finland. Also, travelers from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia can cross Finland’s borders unrestrictedly.

The lifting of travel bans means that recreational travel to Finland is permitted for people from the aforementioned countries. Also, travelers will not need to enter voluntary quarantine upon their arrival in Finland.

Travel bans on internal border traffic will remain in force until October 18 2020 for traffic between Finland and Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland—except for leisure boating.

Restrictions on external border traffic (travel between Finland and non-Schengen countries) will be lifted from September 19 for traffic arriving in Finland from Cyprus and for residents of Australia, Canada and Japan traveling from their home country to Finland. Restrictions have already been lifted for traffic between Finland and Georgia, New Zealand, Rwanda, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay for residents of these countries, and the Vatican.

For all other non-Schengen countries, restrictions continue to be in force until October 18. This applies, for example, to the United States, Russia, China and Ireland. At the external borders, restrictions on entry only allow return traffic to Finland and other EU and Schengen countries, transit traffic at Helsinki Airport and other essential traffic. In addition, a 14-day period of self-quarantine is recommended for travelers arriving in Finland.

The decision, adopted by the government on Friday, is partly based on a European Union policy where people of EU and Schengen countries with fewer than 25 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days should be allowed to travel freely inside the union and Schengen area. Until now, the limit value in Finland has been 8–10. The new limit value also applies to the United Kingdom.

Similarly, when traveling is barred, recreational travel to Finland from the countries concerned is not allowed. If a person enters Finland for another authorized reason, they will transfer to voluntary quarantine for two weeks. People arriving in the country may also be directed to a voluntary Covid-19 test at an airport or port. Based on a risk assessment, the doctor may place the person in quarantine.

Alongside travel bans, transitional procedures will be introduced on October 1. During the transition period, prior testing is recommended for persons arriving from the EU and Schengen countries subject to internal border control, for those arriving from the EU’s green list countries with a higher incidence and for those arriving from third countries for essential reasons.

If they so wish, residents of Finland returning from countries with higher incidence rates can shorten their period of self-quarantine by taking a test as soon as they arrive in Finland, followed by a second test after 72 hours at the earliest. This will ease the conditions for essential travel for work.