Hundreds turned back at Uusimaa borders on usually-busy travel day

Easter is usually one of the busiest travel times of spring on roads in and out of Uusimaa region.

File picture of police checkpoint on Uusimaa border, April 2020 / Credit: Helsinki Police Twitter

Hundreds of vehicles have been turned back at the Uusimaa border as police and military conscripts continue to enforce a regional lockdown to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are traditionally two of the busiest travel days of spring as people leave Finnish cities and perhaps head to their summer cottages for the first time of the year.

This year however only people with a valid reason for crossing to/from Uusimaa are allowed through checkpoints.

On Thursday a total of 45,604 vehicles were allowed to cross, but 283 were turned back. Police also issued nine fines for people who violated the emergency laws.

On train services checked with 832 passengers about their reasons for travel and 20 people were turned back, with two passengers fined.

“We were prepared for the increased travel at Easter, even though it’s not necessary” says Jarkko Lehtinen from Helsinki Police.

“It is strictly prohibited to travel to and from Uusimaa without a valid reason, because the purpose of the movement restriction is to prevent the spread of the virus and protect citizens” Lehtinen explains.

Leisure travel, visiting cottages or celebrating Easter are not considered good reasons for being allowed over the Uusimaa regional border, although police say they’ll be making assessments on a case-by-case basis.

There are around 40 checkpoints operating at Easter on Uusimaa access roads, as well as mobile surveillance units.

The lockdown is due to end on 19th April and Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said this week during a television interview that the restrictions should be lifted on schedule.