When the clock changed to Saturday on the night between Friday and Saturday, the restrictions on passenger traffic between Finland and Sweden lifted due to the corona pandemic. The government decided on the matter on 11 September.
Swedes now also come to Finland as tourists. In addition, the two-week quarantine recommendation ceased to apply to passengers arriving in Finland from Sweden. The first possible way to get to Finland without restrictions was a ship that left Stockholm on Friday night.
The Swedes have been in prison for exactly half a year, since the government began internal border controls on 19 March.
However, no rush of Swedes or other passengers was seen. In the Viking Line terminal in Stockholm at Stadsgården Harbor, some dozen passengers were waiting for Amorella to leave for Turku in the evening, well in advance. Many looked tired. There were virtually no party groups at all.
A nearly empty ship is a special experience. Freight forwarder Mikael Someroja although he tells Iltalehti that there are now somewhat more people on board than during the summer.
– It’s always nice to be on board, the more crew you have, says Someroja, who lives in Ylivieska.
Spokespersons for both Tallink Silja and Viking Line confirm that the rush of Swedish tourists has not been seen – at least not yet.
– No significant change can be seen, at least for the time being. There are some hundreds of passengers on weekends, some dozens during the week, Tallink Silja’s communications assistant Armi Kallio says.
Tallink Silja currently operates two vessels from Stockholm to Turku: Galaxy and Baltic Princes.
The number of tourists has not increased in either direction.
At Viking Line, the situation is the same. There will be passengers in the next couple of days as information director Johanna Boijer-Svahnströmin according to about 150, of them about 50 Swedes. This is much less than usual.
Boijer-Svahnström considers the relaxation of quarantine regulations to be good.
– This is a step in the right direction. Let’s take a wait-and-see attitude. It will take time before passenger numbers are at normal levels, he says.
“Fortunately, citizenship remains”
The first ship is a Finnish couple who have lived in Sweden for a long time. Sirpa Inola moved to Sweden forty years ago with his mother, and the one he met on holiday in Finland Jussi Kämäräinen later moved in.
The couple’s son lives in Finland. Thanks to citizenship, Inola and Kämäräinen have been able to visit Finland even in the summer, but my two-week quarantine has had to be completed by then.
– Fortunately, Finnish citizenship remained, Inola says.
At the beginning of the year, a record number of people living in Sweden applied for Finnish citizenship, says the Finnish speaker SVT. About three hundred citizens’ applications were submitted during the first half of the year, compared to only about 150 during the whole of the previous year.
Finland has only allowed dual citizenship since 2003, so many who moved to Sweden had to give up Finnish citizenship.
Inola says that they know several Finns living in Sweden who no longer have Finnish citizenship. No one had been able to predict the closure of the borders.
According to Viking Line’s Boijer-Svahnström, the passengers who are now moving are above all “beneficial passengers” or going to be related.
Iltalehti will also meet a Finn on board Heta Rautiainen, who is coming from Sweden to Finland for a short family visit. Rautiainen moved to Uppsala about a month ago to study animal behavioral sciences, because no similar line of study could be found in Finland.
– It’s pretty calm there. The instructions appear quite strongly, at least part of the crew following them.
Swedes are much reminded to stay home if there are symptoms and to keep a distance from others. In addition, it is recommended, for example, to avoid public transport.
At least one group of amusements can be found on the ship after all. Stockholmer Robert Carlsson, 53, is coming to Finland for a three-day holiday with his friends Pelle Hammarlundin and Uleniuksen skin with. He has no ties to Finland, so now is the first day when travel is possible.
The program especially includes playing frisbee golf, where Finland is Sweden’s pioneer, according to Carlsson.
– We are going to go on three tracks every day, Carlsson says.
He welcomes Finland’s decision to open the border with Sweden.
– I became happy. After all, we are neighbors, it should be easy to move. But we do have a different view of the corona.
The first non-quarantine passengers step out into the fresh morning air of Turku. There are handcuffs in the corner of the Arrivals Hall. There are no specific inspections or protocols.
The future will show how a shipfly now strikes two sea-loving nations.
It is also unclear how long the current situation will continue. According to the government’s new policy, Finland is free to enter countries with less than 25 cases of corona per 100,000 people in two weeks. Sweden is currently one of them.
But the situation can live on. The government checks the list of “green” countries prepared by the health authority on a weekly basis. Immediately the day after the decision was taken, the limit value was narrowly exceeded. On THL’s website However, Sweden is currently a green country.
A couple of twenty people are waiting for a Helsinki train in the Port of Turku with a supplier.