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Commentary: Finland’s COVID-19 measures have been successful – now we need a controlled exit plan

Article published
27.4.2021 at 16:17
Finavian toimitusjohtaja Kimmo Mäki
After a difficult year with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a relief to hear that the restrictions will soon be lifted. Opening up travel is an essential part of the measures that will take us back towards a more normal life. This should be taken into account in the implementation of the national Covid-19 exit strategy, writes Kimmo Mäki, CEO of Finavia.

Finland has managed to keep the Covid-19 pandemic nicely under control, even in international comparison, and the Government has worked on a strategy that will take us out of the crisis. However, the exit strategy should also include concrete steps on how and when the travel restrictions on air traffic can be lifted.

A quick exit from the crisis is important for Finland’s competitiveness.Finland should lift the travel restrictions simultaneously with other countries in order to retain its position as an important hub between Europe and Asia. Air traffic should be permitted to and from outside the EU as soon as it can be justified from the point of view of health security.

The borders should be opened to all air traffic, not only to travel for specific purposes. There are still many practical challenges and questions to solve. Without a proper plan, the process of arriving to Finland might become confusing, uncoordinated and congested, with passengers not knowing what is expected of them.

When the travel restrictions are lifted, attention should be paid to how things are organised in practice.

Finland should adopt the model that is commonly used elsewhere in Europe, where the right to travel and enter a country is ensured in the country of origin by the airline. This is the most effective way to ensure smooth and secure travel without congestion and a risk of spreading the disease at arrival. It also ensures sufficient resources at borders.

Travel is an integral element of the contemporary lifestyle and one of the keys to exiting the Covid-19 crisis. Opening the borders is a sign that we are approaching the new normal. Travel could be opened up earlier than within the schedule proposed by the Government without compromising health security. Finland should require a negative Covid-19 test result from passengers arriving to the country until we are ready to implement the digital Covid-19 certificate.

Airports are indispensable for the Finnish economy, connections and our national image.

Lifting the restrictions in a controlled, coordinated manner makes Finland appear competent and in control of the situation. For Finland’s national image, it is important that practical arrangements at the airport are smooth. For passengers, Helsinki Airport is the first and, sometimes, the only experience of Finland and Finns.

At Finavia, we do our best to ensure smooth and safe travel under all circumstances. Finavia, Finnair and the City of Vantaa have prepared a proposal on how to ensure safe entry.

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