Minister of Justice caught out by announcement of strict quarantine rules

An announcement on Monday evening of mandatory Covid-19 tests, mandatory self-isolation and fines or prison time for people who break the rules has not yet been discussed by the government.

SFP/RKP leader Anna-Maja Henriksson / Credit: SFP/RKP

Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson (RKP) was apparently caught out by a Monday night announcement from Minister of Family and Basic Services Krista Kiuru (SDP) that a strict new regime of tests and quarantine was being introduced at Finland’s ports and airports – with fines and even a three month prison sentence for people who break the rules.

In comments to Helsingin Sanomat Henriksson said the issue had not yet been discussed within the government and that “it is somewhat unclear to me” exactly what Kiuru was introducing.

Officials tell News Now Finland the government was due to discuss the subject of tighter border controls at a ‘night school’ session on Wednesday – and that Krista Kiuru appears to have spoken too soon with her Monday announcement.

It is understood however that the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs STM did discuss the matter with the Chancellor of Justice before Kiuru’s press conference.

The lack of a formal discussion at government level, and lack of cohesive policy announcement, would explain the holes in the plan as it was presented. There was no clarity on implementation or enforcement of the new rules on self-isolation: how will people be monitored, which agencies will be responsible for ensuring passengers stay in self-isolation, what’s the legal process for imposing fines.

Kiuru also didn’t have a detailed timeline of when this new regime would be introduced, nor what resources would be needed for it to be effective.

A ministry bulletin on Tuesday afternoon includes only vague information about future planning for new measures to combat coronavirus at Finland’s borders. It mentions a gradual introduction of a new model with few specifics, and spot checks on passengers arriving from high risk areas.