Faced with the onslaught of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Finland will reinstate entry controls from the European Union (EU) and Schengen area.
Non-residents wanting to enter Finland must show a negative test result from Dec. 28, Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced late Tuesday. Such requirement was already enforced upon arrivals from non-EU countries and Omicron risk areas from Tuesday.
The government also upgraded restrictions on restaurant opening hours and capacity, but this will take place in two phases. “We wanted to give the industry time to adapt to the situation,” Marin said.
Marin made the announcement at 11 pm following six hours of internal consultations of the cabinet.
During recent days, Finnish health districts and hospitals had been demanding immediate action such as the suspension of the COVID-19 passport that allowed people into restaurants.
On Tuesday, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) had also endorsed the suspension of the certificate system, national broadcaster Yle reported.
THL believed that the most effective way to prevent the spread of Omicron is to restrict the operation of restaurants that focus specifically on the dispensing of alcohol by eliminating the COVID-19 passport.
In practice, this would mean that existing restrictions would have to be respected and could not be circumvented with a COVID-19 passport, Yle said.
The cabinet urged regional authorities to apply the restrictions that belong to their powers. However, the cabinet did not recommend restrictions in low-risk spaces “where people have seats,” such as libraries. “Regional authorities can order tighter restrictions if they so choose,” Marin added.
COVID-19 situation has worsened in Finland. During last week there were 13,400 new cases while one week earlier the number was 10,600.
The infection rate during the last two weeks was 408 per 100,000 residents, a surge from 307 per 100,000 during the previous two weeks.