Finland files first criminal charges over refusal to take Covid test

The charges relate to people arriving into Finland from abroad but failing to take one or both of the two Covid tests mandatory for people not fully vaccinated or coming from a country with a high infection rate.

More than 60 criminal reports had been filed in Finland by the end of last month over failure to take a mandatory coronavirus test. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Prosecutors have filed charges in Helsinki District Court against three defendants over their refusal or failure to take a mandatory Covid test on arrival into Finland, the first such cases of their kind in the country.

The charges relate to a temporary section added to the Communicable Diseases Act during the summer, according to which an adult who intentionally or through gross negligence fails to take a Covid test will face a fine.

The law change allowed travellers from abroad who are fully vaccinated, have recovered from Covid within the previous six months or come from a country with a low infection rate to freely enter Finland. Other passengers must take a test on arrival, self-isolate for three days, and then take a second test.

News agency STT asked other district courts around the country if they have handled similar cases, but none were discovered. However, more charges are likely, as Finland's number-crunching agency Statistics Finland had recorded the filing of 63 criminal reports over the failure to take a mandatory test by the end of September.

Turku man fined for breaking quarantine order

Previously, people who refused to take a Covid test at the border could be fined for committing a health violation, which could also apply to cases where a person leaves quarantine before the allocated time had expired.

Earlier this month, the District Court of Southwest Finland dealt with a case in which a Turku man, who had returned to Finland from a business trip, was ordered to self-isolate. However, he admitted to the court that he broke the order by visiting a grocery store.

In its ruling, the court said that, given the circumstances and the danger the man's actions posed to the health of others, a fine was an adequate punishment, and he was ordered to pay an income-linked day fine of 150 euros.