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Helsinki ports switch to spot-checking arrivals' Covid status

The new arrangement is reliant on the personal responsibility of passengers, according to a city official.

Länsiterminaali sumuisena aamuna.
File aerial photo of Helsinki's West Harbour. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

The City of Helsinki's ports are no longer checking the Covid status of all arriving passengers, according to the director of the city's health and substance abuse service, Leena Turpeinen.

Instead, passengers need to select one of three different lanes as they queue to enter the country.

The 'green lane' is primarily for passengers who are returning from so-called 'mini cruises' who did not disembark in another country. This lane can also include some groups including maritime workers and diplomats, for example.

The 'yellow lane' is for passengers who are fully vaccinated against Covid, or who have recovered from the illness within the last six months.

Meanwhile, the 'red lane' is meant for all other passengers.

Staffing resources at Helsinki ports are currently being allocated to primarily monitor red lane passengers — those who arrive without proof of Covid vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test for the disease.

Personal responsibility

However, Turpeinen noted that if it became necessary due to congestion, inspections of all of the lanes could be relaxed, which could enable some passengers to enter the country without needing to show certificates or negative test results.

"Some will be able to just walk through," Turpeinen said.

She said passengers who intentionally choose the wrong lane to circumvent inspection could face penalties, at least in principle.

"If someone is caught without a Covid certificate or proof of negative test results and then refuses to be tested, we will notify the Border Guard and the communicable disease authorities.

"In principle, there is a possibility that they could face penalties, although it is quite unlikely these people will be tracked down," Turpeinen said.

She emphasised that the new rules at the city's ports were reliant on the personal responsibility of passengers.

A similar change was made at Helsinki Airport over the weekend, when a green lane was set up to expedite processing of fully-vaccinated travellers due to increased passenger volumes.

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