Sunday 12/5/21

Finland restores border controls with 10 more countries

All border decisions will take effect on Monday 24 August.
Minister of Transport Timo-Harakka (L) and Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo. Photos: Lauri-Heikkinen/Vnk.
Minister of Transport Timo Harakka (L) and Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo at the press conference. Photos: Lauri Heikkinen/Vnk.

The Government takes new measures to face the new global expansion of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In their talks on Tuesday evening 18 August, the cabinet's ministers decided to restore restrictions on internal (Schengen) and external (non-Schengen countries) border traffic based on the latest epidemiological assessment.

The Minister of the Interior, Maria Ohisalo (Green League), and the Minister of Transport and Communications, Timo Harakka (SDP), appeared at a press conference on Wednesday morning to explain the new measures approved.

In general lines, and as regards internal borders, controls will be restored to traffic between Finland and Iceland, Greece, Malta, Germany, Norway and Denmark. 

According to Ohisalo, citizens of these countries may travel to Finland for example for business, family matters, work or other justified reasons.

Border with Sweden

Border traffic will be allowed at the border crossing points between Finland and Sweden and between Finland and Norway for local border communities, even though Sweden and Norway exceed the disease incidence limits set by the government.

The European Commission has emphasized equal treatment of Member States in the event of an epidemic. Exceptions to this principle may be made for local border communities. 

The reason is the large number of cross-border movements and exchanges (for work or family reasons) that exist between these border communities. Therefore, in this case the government has decided to make an exception to the principle of equal treatment of Member States established by the European Commission.

Finland has established a maximum of 8 cases diagnosed per 100,000 inhabitants in the past 14 days as the limit value to allow free border traffic with other countries.

At the time of the review (15 August), Italy, Lithuania, Slovakia and Estonia exceed this limit. However, as it is below 10, internal border control will not be reintroduced for traffic with these countries.

External border control

Regarding external border traffic (with countries outside the Schengen area), restrictions will be reinstated for Ireland, Cyprus, San Marino and Japan.

All border decisions will take effect on Monday 24 August.

During the negotiations, the government also discussed the issue of the flights from Skopje (Northern Macedonia), which last week raised alarm because many travelers tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in Finland.

The issue caused a disagreement between Transport Minister Harakka - in favor of suspending flights between Skopje and Turku - and Interior Minister Ohisalo, who reminded him that the Constitution guarantees the right of all Finns to leave or return to their country.

According to a Government press release, there was no decision on this. The matter is now being analyzed by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.