Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) attempted Wednesday evening to clarify the contradictory messages issued by several of her Government's ministers regarding the imposition of mandatory quarantines on travelers coming to Finland from countries at risk.
After an informal cabinet meeting - the first held after summer vacation - Marin explained that mandatory quarantines and coronavirus tests will not be imposed by the government at Finnish ports and airports. Any of these measures, she explained, must be decided by health officials in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act.
Her words confirmed the uncertainty and lack of coordination within the Government, which, for example, the Iltalehti newspaper has described as "chaos" in its editorial.
Last Monday, the Minister of Family Affairs Krista Kiuru and the Minister of Transport and Communications, Timo Harakka (both from SDP), headed a joint press conference with other authorities in which they announced that the Government was considering forcing all travelers from risk areas to undergo Covid-19 tests and quarantine.
Minister Kiuru announced fines and up to three months in prison for those who violate the rules and even talked about the possibility of blocking flights from certain countries.
Not all members of the five-party coalition government liked her announcement.
Minister of Justice Anna-Maija Henriksson (Swedish People's Party) was the main voice to question the words of her fellow cabinet member the next day. Speaking to Helsingin Sanomat, Henriksson said she was "surprised" by Kiuru's statements and warned that such important measures had not even been discussed within the government.
Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Center Party) also did not support Kiuru, saying that the announcement about mandatory quarantines only reflected her views, not those of the entire government.
Now that the head of government has returned and spoken, the cabinet's position is closer to being clarified. Marin's words do not support Kiuru's announcement either.
When Sanna Marin was asked if she personally supports mandatory quarantines, she stated that the competent authorities do not need the backing of the Prime Minister for that.
"I understand that every effort is made to ensure that the disease does not enter the country," was all she said.