Government considers mandatory quarantine for returning airline passengers

File picture of Helsinki Airport departures hall / Credit: Finavia

The government and health officials are considering whether to use hotels near to Helsinki Airport as sites to quarantine returning passengers.

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (SFP) and the CEO of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District Juha Tuominen said in a Thursday night television interview that the issue of mandatory quarantine is under consideration.

Tuominen said that in practice, supervised quarantine means that passengers would be accommodated for two weeks at hotels, possibly neat to the airport. This is similar to what happened in other countries at the start of the pandemic.

It’s already a step beyond the government’s position from just a few hours earlier, when  Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) told News Now Finland on Thursday morning that it’s up to returning holidaymakers to self-quarantine when they return home from overseas.

“We still trust in Finns that they are capable of self-isolation, as Finns here domestically have done. We have a lot of people, 70 plus, who have done the self-isolation successfully” said the minister.

Hundreds of Finns were scheduled to return home from holiday destinations on Friday, on at least four repatriation flights organised jointly by Finnair and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The planes were leaving on Friday afternoon and evening from two airports in Portugal, from Cyprus and from Miami.

Several thousand other Finns who live full-time or seasonally in Spain are also thought to be planning to come home which has pushed the issue of quarantining those travelers from ‘hot spot’ countries to the fore.