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Ban on private exchange of goods at Tornio border crossing

The direct supply of goods to consumers is not exempted from restrictions on cross-border traffic, border agencies say.

Rajavartija istuu autossa suorittamassa rajaliikenteen valvontaa.
Finland's Border Guards have been monitoring and enforcing the ban on non-essential cross-border travel. Image: Risto Koskinen / Yle

A ban on the exchange of goods between private individuals is due to begin from 8am on Monday at the Tornio border crossing between Finland and Sweden.

The measure was announced by the Finnish Border Guard and Western Finland Coast Guard in a statement on Saturday night.

According to the border agencies, the government has decided to crack down on private exchanges in all border crossing areas. The Border Guard will enforce the ban and will also monitor human traffic at all border crossings.

Meanwhile the Western Finland Coast Guard pointed out that it had reintroduced internal border controls following government's decision in April to close Finland's borders to non-essential international travel.

The Western Finland Coast Guard said in a statement that the travel restrictions imposed by the government on 7 April allow for essential cross border movement by freight traffic and logistics personnel. It added that the purpose of the exceptions was to comply with European Commission guidelines to safeguard the functionality of international logistics chains in an emergency.

Private goods trade not exempted from border closures

However this exception does not apply to the exchange of goods between private individuals or to the delivery of goods from commercial operators directly to consumers or private individuals, the agency noted.

"The transport of goods between private individuals or the direct supply of goods by commercial operators to consumers or private individuals do not constitute freight transport according to the government decision, so border crossings by individuals for this purpose are subject to travel restrictions," it said in the statement.

The Coast Guard said in a statement that if products can be purchased without crossing national borders, then border crossings will not be viewed as essential.

"In this way crossing the border will be covered by the government restriction, although there is no restriction per se on the movement of goods," the border agency noted.

Permission to cross the border will be granted on a case by case basis, and will be based on information provided by travellers as well as other available information.

Earlier on Saturday, infectious diseases officials in Länsi-Pohja, a region on the border between Finland and Sweden, had called for a ban on unauthorised movement across the border. On May Day, the region reported 11 new Covid-19 infections.

In late March, infectious diseases specialist Markku Broas of Lapland Central Hospital had called for a ban on work trips across the Finnish-Swedish border. At the time he voiced concerns that coronavirus infections appeared to be spreading from Sweden into Finland.

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