Finland has started quarantining all people arriving from countries considered unsafe regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The new policy was announced by Family Affairs and Social Services Minister Krista Kiuru at a press conference late Monday night.
The quarantine requirement will concern Finnish residents and citizens arriving from those countries alike.
Finland defines countries where the current COVID-19 occurrence rate in the last two weeks does not exceed eight cases per 100,000 inhabitants as safe. The government reviews the situation at two-week intervals. Finland has so far been recommending a 14-day quarantine for people arriving from “unsafe countries.”
The voluntary approach has been given up, and from now on, all arrivals from “unsafe countries” by air or sea will be ordered into a legally binding 14-day quarantine. Kiuru said the ruling will also cover land borders as soon as possible. People will be allowed to spend the quarantine time at home.
Breaking the rules would constitute a criminal act, said the minister, noting that the maximum penalty for disobeying the quarantine order is currently three-month imprisonment or fine. Finland will also trace down passengers who have changed flights to technically “arrive from a safe country.” Kiuru announced that airlines will be required to submit information about passengers who have originated in an unsafe country and have transited through a safe country.
Kiuru said the new policy decisions were taken by the government following updated information that about half of the current infections in Finland have been attributed to foreign travel. Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications, said at the press conference that Finland aims at stopping the rising infection levels “in the bud.”
He said that Finnish people should consider twice before embarking on travel to risky countries, as quarantine will await upon returning.