Finland opening borders to more foreign travelers

There's a new list of countries where people can come to Finland unrestricted, without a special reason, and without a requirement to self-isolate on arrival.

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File picture of Pekka Haavisto (Green) and Maria Ohisalo (Green) at Helsinki press conference, 8th July 2020 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

The government says it’s easing border restrictions with more than 20 countries, so that visitors will be able to come to Finland for any reason, and not be expected to go into self-isolation when they arrive.

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) made the announcement at a Wednesday evening press conference after a day of discussions at House of the Estates in Helsinki.

Finland has already opened up the borders to travelers from Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Norway, and to qualify to be on the new list countries had to show a level of eight cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population over the last two weeks.

From Monday 13th July visitors can arrive unrestricted from Germany, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Greece, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, Andorra, Vatican, San Marino, Malta, Netherlands, Thailand, Algeria, Australia, China and Rwanda – and although there is still a recommendation of voluntary self-isolation on arrival, there is no more mandatory requirement.

“We are returning gradually to normal, but there is still room for caution” says Ohisalo.

Restrictions on borders remain between Finland and Sweden, and Spain, Portugal, Poland, France, Luxembourg, the Czech Republic – and also the UK and USA.

This means that anyone coming to Finland from those countries will need to have a specific valid reason for being here – like returning to their home address in Finland, to be with a partner who has permanent residence in Finland or Finnish nationality, to attend an urgent family matter like a funeral, or for work reasons. Even in those circumstances visitors will be required to self-isolate on arrival for 14 days.

The government says it will review the situation every two weeks and add more countries to the list if they meet criteria on coronavirus rates.

Berry pickers allowed to return

Ministers also announced on Wednesday that seasonal agricultural workers who come to pick berries, would be allowed to return if they have a job offer from a Finnish company.

Authorities in Thailand will allow up to 3,000 berry pickers to travel to Finland this year, however Foreign Minister¬†Pekka Haavisto (Green) told journalists on Wednesday that the Thai government decides on whether the workers can leave the country or not, and at this time Finland does not meet Thailand’s criteria, which includes employers checking the health status of the seasonal workers.