Uusimaa lockdown: Police stop hundreds of vehicles at region’s borders

The Uusimaa lockdown began at midnight on Friday and continues until 19th April. Police say they will operate roadblocks the entire time.

File picture of Uusimaa border police checkpoint / Credit: Suomen Poliisi

On the first day of the Uusimaa lockdown, police say they stopped 835 vehicles and turned them around from either entering or leaving the southern region.

Uusimaa is Finland’s most populous region, home to some 1.7 million people and the country’s first, second and fourth largest cities: Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa.

However, under Emergency Act powers approved by Parliament late Friday night the region is under a lockdown until the middle of April. It means that anyone who wants to cross the borders on roads or on public transport will have to have a valid reason like going to work, child visitation, returning to a place of residence or because of the death of a close relative.

Goods and freight can still be transported between regions, so there’s no slow-down in the supply chain during the lockdown.

“Police cannot give anyone permission in advance to get through the checkpoint. Everyone should be prepared to present a sufficient verbal or written justification or reason for movement at the checkpoint. Police will make a necessity assessment on a case-by-case basis” says police Commander Juha Hietala .

Saturday was the first full day of roadblocks, which are manned by police and unarmed army conscripts.

In the first 24 hours of the lockdown, officers inspected 16,555 vehicles on the roads and 835 vehicles were turned around. One person was fined for violating the Emergency Act.

“There have been several vehicles on the provincial border trying to get to the other side without the need. We urge you to avoid doing this. It will slow down traffic unnecessarily” says Heikki Porola from Helsinki Police Department.

Police say there were also 746 rail passengers during the day who tried to cross the Uusimaa border and 19 of them were turned back. Passenger numbers on trains have been “very moderate” according to authorities.