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Finland to offer rapid Covid tests at Swedish border

The pilot programme will roll out next week at the latest, amid possible border restrictions planned by the government.

Vehicles on the way from Sweden into Finland at the Tornio-Haparanda border crossing, file photo. Image: Antti Ullakko / Yle

In a pilot programme, Finland is planning to intensify coronavirus testing at the Tornio-Haparanda crossing on the Swedish border.

Authorities plan to start offering coronavirus quick tests to all those arriving in Finland at the twin cities crossing. Previously, only non-citizens were given the chance to be tested.

Rollout of the tests will begin no later than Monday 25 January, the city of Tornio's welfare services chief Leena Karjalainen told news service STT.

The pilot programme is in line with the border crossing rapid-testing policy of the government and Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Last week, as the plans for the border's testing point were being laid out, Karjalainen told Yle that the testing site would be open 12 hours a day, starting at either 7 or 8am.

Border restrictions in the works

Daily commuter traffic in both directions at the western border has remained brisk during the epidemic, but health authorities have recommended against all other types of cross-border travel in the area.

The number of people who cross the border varies from 10,000 to 30,000 per day. However, a more exact number of daily crossings is unknown.

Last week Karjalainen said that she expected a maximum of a few hundred people per day would voluntarily be tested.

The intensified testing effort is just part of possible changes coming to Finland's borders, as the government announced on Thursday that the interior ministry is planning to call for border restrictions due to the coronavirus situation.

The government is scheduled to discuss those plans next week.