Turku opens coronavirus advice experiment for ferry passengers on Monday

The two-day trial will target evening ferry services from Sweden and make sure all passengers get accurate advice, and a test if they need it.

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File picture of Viking Line ship at Turku Port, April 2018 / Credit: iStock

The City of Turku is trialing a new strategy for coronavirus advice and testing at the port from Monday.

Incoming passengers from Sweden will be offered health information about the virus and the possibility to get a Covid-19 test.

Today the pilot project will target Viking Line’s evening ship and on Tuesday the focus will be on Tallink Silja Line’s evening ferry passengers.

“According to our information, more passengers will come to Turku in the evening than in the mornings, and for this reason evening ships are a good pilot destination for us” says Dr Jane Marttila from the City of Turku.

“We will test a certain way of working on two evenings and then evaluate if it would be most sensible to organize the allocation of health counseling to those coming from the epidemic area” in Sweden, he adds.

During the two-day pilot scheme there will be two separate health information points at the port, immediately after border control. Passengers will receive instructions on voluntary self-quarantine and coronavirus testing is offered to everyone.

After the trial phase, officials will evaluate how it went to see if there might be other ways to refine the process of making sure passengers get access to coronavirus information.

File picture of WizzAir A321 aircraft / Credit: WizzAir

Proposals to require negative tests from passengers

The Turku port initiative comes as the government is preparing new legislation that would oblige airlines, ferry operators or charter bus companies to ensure passengers prove a negative Covid-19 test before they begin their journey to Finland.

It’s primarily aimed at making it easier for authorities to stop specific routes – like the recent Turku-Skopje flight connection – where there are high numbers of passengers who test positive for Covid-19. But it could also be a way to open up popular tourist and business routes again including the Finland-Sweden ferry services.

“It has become clear that the powers of transport authorities need to be strengthened in order to ensure health safety in transport. says Minister Timo Harakka (SDP).

“In daily international traffic, it would be most effective to oblige the transport organizer on flights, ships, buses and trains to take care of and check that the tourist has a certificate of a negative test result” he adds.

The legislation is open today for comments from the travel and tourism industry.