In an effort to prevent the second strain of COVID-19 from entering, Finland is now restricting all non-essential travel into the country, according to an announcement published by the Finnish Ministry of Interior.
The entry ban will be effective from 27 January 2021 to 25 February 2021, unless it is extended. It will include all third country nationals, EU nationals, and Schengen nationals.
To justify once again closing their borders to other Schengen Member States, the Finnish authorities have noted that the situation in Finland is different than in other Member States.
“The new restrictions aim to reduce cross-border traffic in order to prevent the spread of the new COVID-19 variants. The epidemiological situation in Finland differs considerably from that in other Schengen countries. For this reason, the risk that travellers might spread the virus variants is significant in Finland,” the announcement reads.
Third country nationals, Schengen nationals, and EU nationals can still enter Finland, given that they have been deemed to be an essential worker that must enter. The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs keeps a running list of the types of workers that are essential.
The way that the Finnish Ministry of Interior defines “essential” in terms of cross-border traffic is “Essential travel constitutes work that is important for the functioning of society or for security of supply, that must be performed by a person or persons arriving from another country and that must be carried out without delay,” the announcement reads.
The waters have been further muddied, however, when determining what travel is “essential” and what travel is not. The Ministry of Interior has also announced that even though a person attempting to travel into Finland from another Member State might be included on the list of essential workers, they might still not be allowed to enter. This is mostly dependent on the person’s employer filing the proper paperwork and supplying it to the worker.
“However, any critical task included in the list does not automatically mean that entry into the country is warranted. Employers must use a separate form to justify why the job of a worker seeking entry into Finland is essential and why the work must be performed without delay. The worker seeking to enter Finland presents this form in the border check in addition to other documents required for crossing the border,” the announcement reads.
However, persons who are still generally allowed to enter Finland for essential employment reasons during the entry ban include:
- Emergency and rescue service personnel, including emergency medical care
- Professionals who take care of the elderly
- Freight transport and logistics personnel
- Authorities in essential duties
- Staff of international organizations
- Military personnel
- Personnel of aid organizations
- Representatives of states participating in international negotiations
- Persons participating in the work of international organizations
- Foreign media representatives
- Personnel of regular, scheduled flights to an airport
- Travel to a private residence in Finland
- Asset arrangements in Finland
- Spouses of Finnish nationals, including cohabitant and close personal relationships
- Children, parents, grandparents, and parents-in-law of a Finnish citizen
It must be stressed that falling into one of these categories does not automatically permit a person to enter Finland.
In addition, being from a border community with Finland will also no longer be a valid reason to enter the country, whereas it used to be. This only applies to non-Finnish citizens.
It is still unclear if Finland will life the restrictions in February.