Amendments to Parliament regarding the two-test model of the Government’s hybrid strategy
On 1 October 2020, the Government submitted a proposal to Parliament on temporary amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act and the Act on Transport Services.
The amendments relate to the Government resolution of 11 September 2020 on implementing the hybrid strategy for border traffic and travel. The proposed amendments are needed to introduce the two-test model included in the hybrid strategy to manage the COVID-19 crisis. The model will be introduced by 23 November 2020. From 1 October to 22 November 2020, the model for the transitional period will be in use.
Documentation of a negative result from a coronavirus test required from people arriving in Finland
The Communicable Diseases Act, if amended as proposed, would include provisions on the power of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare to decide whether a traveller arriving in Finland would be required to present a certificate of a negative result from a COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours prior to arrival or a certificate by a licensed physician stating that the person has recovered from a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19.
The decision by the Institute for Health and Welfare should indicate the countries or regions with higher incidence rates to which the obligation would apply.
According to the legislative proposal, the certificate would have to be presented to the health authorities or border check authorities upon entry to the country. The municipal authority responsible for combating the spread of infectious diseases would supervise that the person is accompanied by such a certificate. In carrying out this work, the infectious disease authorities would have the right to check the contents of the certificate. The certificates should be in Finnish, Swedish, English, French, German or Russian. If the certificate was issued in another language, a translation into one of those languages should be attached to it.
Persons arriving in the country might be placed in quarantine in accordance with the Communicable Diseases Act. A decision to end the quarantine could be made, if a second COVID-19 test taken 72 hours after entry at the earliest is negative.
In addition, according to the legislative amendment, if a person intended to stay in Finland for a maximum period of 72 hours and was accompanied by a certificate of a negative test result, the quarantine would not be imposed and no second test would be required.
If a person did not carry a certificate, they could be required to take a test and could be placed in quarantine.
Finnish citizens and permanent residents of Finland would not be required to show a test certificate
Finnish citizens and permanent residents of Finland would not be required to show a test certificate when returning to Finland. Upon arrival from higher incidence countries, they would be guided to get tested and begin their quarantine in Finland.
Certain groups would be exempted from the certification requirement. These would include persons who have daily interaction in border communities and persons in the transport and logistics sector who constantly cross the border to Finland. No certificate would be required from persons, or their family members, employed by foreign missions or international intergovernmental organisations.
Transport service providers obligated to inform the passengers of necessary certificates
According to the proposed amendments to the Act on Transport Services, transport service providers would be required to inform passengers prior to travel of these obligations imposed by the Communicable Diseases Act.
The Transport and Communications Agency could oblige transport service providers operating from the countries and regions identified in the decision of the Institute for Health and Welfare to reasonably ensure that passengers are aware of the type of certificates and reports needed for cross-border traffic to Finland.
It would the responsibility of the Transport and Communications Agency to supervise that the transport service providers comply with their obligation to inform the passengers.
The amendments included in the legislative proposal would remain in force until 31 December 2021.
Act on Transport Services:
Silja Ruokola, Director of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Transport and Communications, email@example.com, tel. +358 40 580 0894
Kimmo Kiiski, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Transport and Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 50 539 5346
Communicable Diseases Act:
Jari Keinänen, Director, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, email@example.com, tel. +358 295 163 311
Liisa Katajamäki, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. +358 295 163 329