HELSINKI: Finland will start restricting traffic over its borders on Thursday (Mar 17) in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said.
Finland’s centre-left government approved legislation on Tuesday to adopt a state of emergency which the parliament is expected to approve on Wednesday.
“Goods and cargo transports will continue across all borders. Indispensable work-related travelling will still be possible and continues within EU borders,” Ohisalo told a news conference.
Permanent residents would be allowed to return and foreign travellers permitted to leave Finland, Ohisalo said.
Travelling abroad should be avoided and the restrictions were valid until Apr 13, the government said, with passenger railway traffic between Finland and neighbouring Russia ending on Wednesday .
Ferry firms Viking Line and Tallink, which link Finland to Sweden and Estonia, both said they would stop operating Helsinki-Stockholm ferries and cut back on the Helsinki-Tallinn route, which was used last year by 8.8 million people.
Finland’s health authority had confirmed 319 coronavirus cases but no deaths by Tuesday, but it said the total number was not reflective of actual cases as testing has been limited to certain groups only since last week.
The government said it would allow pharmaceutical retailers to restrict sales to ensure availability for those in most urgent need and also assess whether it was necessary to restrict drug and healthcare gear exports.