Finland grapples with US travel ban implications

President Donald Trump banned people from EU countries from travelling to the United States in a statement on Wednesday evening.

flight cancellations are expected after the USA banned travellers from EU countries. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

Finland was on Thursday struggling to understand the impact of new restrictions imposed by the US government on travellers from EU countries.

Donald Trump had announced the restrictions on Wednesday evening because he said EU countries had "failed to take the same precautions" as the US in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic.

He exempted cargo and travellers from the UK, where cases of coronavirus have also been rising.

For Finns, the restrictions mean that from 13 March until 14 April, they will not be able to enter the United States.

Finnair’s communications director Päivyt Tallqvist told Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that the company would refund customers for any cancelled flights.

The ban applies to EU citizens and also any other non-US citizens who have travelled to an EU country in the last 14 days.

Economic worries

Varma Insurance CEO Risto Murto says Trump’s decision is a clear shock to the economy.

He told Yle that "economic growth will slow considerably and this is reminiscent of the (previous) financial crisis. Already in some sectors of the international economy there has been a complete shutdown.”

He predicts that in addition to airlines, other forms of tourism and flight related sectors will suffer.

"Above all, business travel will likely stop. The concern is that the ban is for a month. We don’t know when it will be lifted."

"No logical explanation"

New York-based financial analyst Tero Kuittinen told Yle that Trump’s decision to allow flights to and from the US to the UK but not continental Europe had "no logical explanation."

The first reactions to Trump’s speech were visible on the stock market as Dow Jones futures dropped by 900 points directly after Trump’s announcement.

"The markets responded very negatively, as there is still the impression that the Trump government can’t make rational decisions or consider the ramifications of their actions together with those countries that they are friendly with."

Kuittinen suggested that the US President might not have based his decision on solely medical grounds.

"Trump is often motivated by revenge…and especially as Trump already has strained relations with both Germany and France."