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Yle sources: Finland planning to delay reopening of borders

The government had wanted to permit work-related travel within the EU in May and open to internal border traffic in June.

Helsinki-Vantaa lentoasema. 26.3.2021
Finland's government announced a Covid exit strategy in April, which included a number of travel-related obectives. Image: Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

Finland's government is planning to postpone plans, announced in April, to permit work-related travel within the EU in May and to relax controls at internal borders during the month of June, according to Yle sources.

According to Yle's information, the plans will be pushed back until later in the summer as the coronavirus situation in Europe has not improved to a sufficient level. Only a small number of Schengen area countries currently have a coronavirus incidence rate below 200.

The government therefore does not want to take the risk that opening the borders too quickly will lead to a spike in coronavirus infections.

Internal border traffic refers to travel between Finland and other countries belonging to the Schengen area. The current border restrictions are valid until 25 May, after which Finland is planning to continue to restrict entry from all other Schengen countries except Iceland.

No final decision as yet

Kirsi Pimiä, Chief of Staff at the Ministry of the Interior, confirmed to Yle that it is now uncertain whether the travel-related objectives laid out in April's exit strategy will go ahead as originally planned. However, she added that she does not want to speculate yet on the situation in June.

"At this stage, there is no exact information even on how the restrictions will change from next week onwards. Everything is still open," Pimiä said.

In addition to the coronavirus situation in Europe, the easing of internal border controls will be affected by vaccine coverage as well as the health security measures that are yet to be introduced.

A new proposal that would require people arriving into the country to provide a negative test certificate is currently being prepared by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.

Pimiä added that the next priority is to open the land border between Finland and Norway for the movement of people living in border communities, which is expected to happen during May.

However, the issue of permitting travel for border communities on the Finnish-Swedish land border is not currently being considered, as the Covid situation on the Swedish side of the border is considerably worse than in Finland.

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