Monday 10/25/21
CORONAVIRUS

Government advises "resilience" to Finnish travelers blocked in UK

The Foreign Office says in a statement that there will be no repatriation flights for Finnish residents and discourages those who are considering getting help from the Embassy in London.

21 December 2020, Czech Republic, Prague: A passenger is seen wearing full protective equipment as he walks with his luggage at Vaclav Havel Airport Prague. The Czech Republic has announced an immediate ban on flights from and to Britain over the recently discovered variant of the coronavirus. Photo: Vít imánek/CTK/dpa
A passenger is seen wearing full protective equipment at Vaclav Havel Airport Prague. Photo: Vít imánek/CTK/dpa.

The government advises "resilience" to Finnish travelers who have been blocked in the United Kingdom, without the possibility of returning to Finland for Christmas, after a new strain of the Covid-19 virus was detected there. 

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom decided to suspend air passenger flights from the UK to Finland for two weeks from 21 December 2020 until 4 January 2021.

"Due to the decision, many travelers’ return to Finland will be difficult or prevented altogether," the Ministry for Foreign Affairs admitted in a press release.

"Travelers are again required to be resilient and able to deal with uncertainty. Because of the pandemic, the situation may deteriorate abruptly and unpredictably in any country or region," the government's release says.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs reminds travelers that its recommendation since last spring has been to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

Repatriation flights also banned

The ban imposed by the government applies to all flights, including repatriation flights.

In the early phases of the pandemic in the spring, the government decided to organize repatriation flights because air traffic was suddenly suspended all over the world. "Now that people have been aware of the situation and the consequent travel recommendations for a long time, we are not planning repatriation flights," the Ministry says.

In the government's view, travelers should now primarily assess their chances of returning to Finland "independently,"  although it recognizes that "at present it may be difficult to find any connections." 

Despite being a situation derived from a government decision, the cabinet led by Sanna Marin transfers responsibility to the airlines: "Many travelers may have to stay at their travel destination until passenger airlines resume their regular operations."

"In case Traficom decides to amend its decision based on the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare’s (THL) recommendation and Finnish travelers in the UK will be able to return home, commercial connections would be the preferred option," the government say.

Finnish Embassy in London

The Finnish Embassy in London and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs are "monitoring the situation closely."

However, the statement from the department headed by Pekka Haavisto also discourages those who are thinking of requesting help from the Finnish diplomatic services:

"The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has only limited capabilities to assist people in distress abroad during the pandemic. The Finnish Embassy in London is updating information on its website and social media channels. We recommend that you submit your travel plans and contact details at matkustusilmoitus.fi."

UK residents, travelers in Finland

Finnish health authorities recommend testing for Finns who recently traveled to Britain and for UK residents who arrived in Finland in the last two weeks. Even if they do not have symptoms or although they have already been tested, says the government note.

THL recommends that all those who arrived in Finland from the UK since 7 December get tested even if they had no symptoms of a coronavirus infection.

"Testing is conducted to ensure that the new coronavirus variant will not spread in Finland through asymptomatic persons infected with coronavirus. The recommendation to get tested for coronavirus applies also to persons who have already been tested once or twice after returning to Finland from the UK," the Foreign Ministry says.

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