Ministry of Transport and Communications information pack: Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the transport and communications system

Ministry of Transport and Communications 14.3.2020 8.51 | Published in English on 20.3.2020 at 16.00
Press release

This is the Ministry's information page on matters concerning the coronavirus outbreak. The information will be updated regularly. It was last updated on 20 March 2020.

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The Ministry of Transport and Communications and the agencies and bodies subordinate to it are closely monitoring the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and its consequences for the transport and communications system. Measures being taken are drawn up in accordance with guidance issued by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

The Permanent Secretary and the Head of Preparedness at the Ministry of Transport and Communications are included in the Government's coordination group.

The website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare provides comprehensive information on the coronavirus. The Institute issues guidelines and updates these and other materials on the basis of new information.

Q&A: Questions and answers

Which authorities are responsible for the closure of Finland's borders?

Decisions on the closure of border crossing points are made by the Government. However, the actual closure of the borders is the task of the Finnish Border Guard, which operates under the Ministry of the Interior. The Ministry of Transport and Communications does not at this stage have any duties associated with the exceptional circumstances.

When do the border restrictions begin?

According to the Ministry of the Interior, the restrictions on cross-border traffic at Finland's borders start at midnight (00.00) on Thursday 19 March, in line with the decision of the Government. 

What about traffic restrictions?

Under the Government's policy, the introduction of the Emergency Powers Act brings with it a suspension of passenger traffic to Finland. The aim is that goods traffic should continue as normally as possible.

From Sunday 22 March 2020 at 00:00, crossing internal borders will only be permitted for persons, who based on a permanent employment contract, work in the intrinsic travel-to-work area on the border with Sweden or Norway.

The Government's decision to restrict public gatherings to no more than 10 people does not apply to transport or vehicles.

Are Finns allowed to return to Finland and foreign nationals allowed to leave the country?

Finnish citizens and people permanently resident in Finland are always allowed to return to Finland. Foreign travellers in Finland are free to leave the country.

Who decides on the frequencies of transport services?

The companies providing the transport services decide themselves on the connections and the frequencies to destinations abroad and at home.

Mobility is currently restricted by the fact that companies providing transport services have reduced their operations.

Is traffic also restricted within Finland's borders?

The movement of people within Finland's borders is not prohibited, but the Government's policy is that people should try to minimise travel by restricting themselves to essential movements only.

The Government is restricting public gatherings to ten people and recommends avoiding unnecessary time in public places. This restriction does not apply to transport or vehicles.

How does the restriction on the size of public gatherings affect transport? Can there be more than ten passengers on a bus, for example?

The Government's policy is that people should try to minimise travel by restricting themselves to essential trips only.

There are no restrictions on the number of passengers that can use a public transport vehicle at the same time.

Cycling or walking is recommended.

How will Finns abroad be able to return to Finland if the transport connections aren't working?

Finnish citizens and people permanently resident in Finland are always allowed to return to Finland.

Tour operators, airlines and shipping companies will endeavour to bring Finns back to Finland wherever possible. You should contact transport service providers to check the services available.

Finnair, for example, is continuing to fly, but is reducing its flights in a controlled manner so that repatriations can be managed at the same time. Further information is available directly from Finnair.

Ships may bring Finnish citizens and residents of Finland to Finnish ports, and may load or unload goods at these ports.

In road traffic, it is presumed that the FSS border service of the Russian Federation and the Finnish Border Guard will allow citizens to return to their home country.

If you need to cut your trip short or you have difficulties arranging your return home because of the coronavirus, this is not categorised as an emergency. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs advises you to ask about the arrangements for your return journey from your tour operator, airline or insurance company.

How are travellers in Finland informed about how they can leave the country?

Foreign travellers in Finland are free to leave the country. They will be informed of this by their own country's embassy or diplomatic mission or by their tour operator.

How does the suspension of passenger traffic affect goods transport?

Reduced passenger traffic restricts the possibilities of goods transport by passenger car ferries and air traffic.

The aim is to safeguard other goods traffic so that it can continue almost as normal.

Are cargo ships also banned from entering Finland?

No. Goods traffic will continue as usual.

How will change of staff and crews be managed when borders are closed and passenger traffic suspended?

Change of staff and crews on buses and coaches, trains, aircraft and ships is allowed, as is the arrival of lorry drivers transporting goods.

How are companies in the sector being supported?

The Government is planning measures to assist companies.

How will the functioning of communications connections be ensured when many companies have switched to remote working? Is there enough capacity?

The aim is for the transport and communications system to function as normally as possible. Finland's telecommunications networks have good capacity and resilience. The National Cyber Security Centre, which operates within the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, monitors the situation and issues instructions as necessary.