More restrictions for Sweden, Norway and Estonia border crossings

Restrictions will be put into place in the northern land borders until the middle of May; while ferry operators are being advised not to sell passenger tickets to Estonia or Germany from this weekend.

File picture of government press conference showing (L-R) Timo Harakka (SDP), Pekka Haavisto (Green) and Maria Ohisalo (Green), 7th April 2020 / Credit: Lauri Heikkinen, VNK

The government has announced a tightening of Finland’s borders with Norway and Sweden until the middle of May, and a recommendation to stop selling ferry tickets to Estonia.

In the northern border region, the aim is to reduce movements to only travel for work that is strictly necessary, and employees must now carry a certificate from their employer stating that the work is essential.

The new rules don’t essential medical or rescue personnel, or freight truck drivers, and speaking at a Tuesday morning press briefing ministers said that a large number of healthcare personnel travel from Finland to Sweden and the government doesn’t want to leave Sweden lacking those staff.

“For its part, Sweden is ready to commit to more extensive testing and increase the amount of protective equipment in healthcare” facilities says Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green).

Anyone arriving across the border from Sweden or Norway into Finland must follow Finnish healthcare instructions and go into quarantine for 14 days.

In recent weeks traffic crossing the land borders between Finland, and Sweden and Norway, has dropped by around 95% with the vast majority of traffic now freight vehicles.

Ferry ticket sales

The Finnish government has also recommended that all ferry tickets between Finland and Estonia, Sweden and Germany be suspended from 11th April with the exception of goods and freight transport.

Minister of Transport Timo Harakka (SDP) says that in practice all passenger traffic will end after Good Friday and into Saturday morning.

In practice ferry companies have already drastically reduced services, re-purposed ships to other routes carrying freight and medical supplies, and anyone from Estonia coming to Finland would have to anyway self-isolate for 14 days which means there’s been a big drop in the number of passengers.

Finnish ministers said on Tuesday morning they are prepared to impose further restrictions on border traffic if necessary.