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MaRa to file complaint over coronavirus testing fiasco

Kymenlaakso health authorities let returning football fans through the Finland-Russia border crossing without the need for a Covid test due to congestion back in June.

Bussiletka raja-asemalla.
Football fans returning from Saint Petersburg queueing at the Vaalimaa border crossing on 22 June. Image: Niklas Joki / Yle

A hospitality industry lobby group is filing a complaint over the failed covid testing regime at the Russian border during the men's football European Championships.

The Vaalimaa border crossing was jammed on the evening of 22 June as football fans returned from St Petersburg after watching Finland play Belgium in Euro2020. According to the South-East Finland Border Guard, at worst there were a dozen buses and several hundred cars stuck at the border.

With only four staff members carrying out tests, Kymsote (Kymenlaakso's Social and Health Services) paused testing in order to relieve the congestion. Some 800 people crossed the border untested.

Contact details were recorded and returnees were instructed to get tested upon arriving home.

More than half of the untested football tourists were Covid positive, leading to hundreds of infections and chains of infections across Finland.

That, in turn, led to tightened restrictions on hospitality businesses in several regions.

Hospitality industry lobbyist MaRa now says it will be submitting a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

In a press release announcing the formal complaint, MaRa's CEO Timo Lappi says that Kymsote's actions "caused infections to rise and brought the Delta variant to Finland."

Lappi said that it was due to these failures that restaurant and gathering restrictions in Uusimaa were not relaxed, and that restrictions were reintroduced to Southwest Finland and Päijät-Häme.

The subsequent sales losses for tourism and restaurant companies amount to at least several tens of millions of euros in Uusimaa alone, according to the MaRa chief executive.

"Kymsote neglects to perform official duties. Consequence: Restrictive measures in the restaurant and event sector will be tightened. Entrepreneurs and workers suffer. Who will bear the financial responsibility for entrepreneurs and employees?" Lappi tweeted on Tuesday.

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