Security authorities are prepared for the spread of coronavirus

Ministry of the Interior 12.3.2020 15.19 | Published in English on 13.3.2020 at 12.27
Press release 18/2020

The authorities responsible for internal security are prepared for the spread of the coronavirus. They are looking after everyday security in Finland.

The Ministry and its agencies have instructed their staff to take protective measures so that the activities of the police, border control, emergency response centres, rescue services and the Finnish Immigration Service can continue as smoothly as possible. The plans also include preparations for a situation where some of the employees are ill.

"Internal security authorities play an important role in creating everyday security in Finland. In the administrative branch of the Ministry of the Interior, preparations have been made to intensify cooperation between the authorities and to act in accordance with the recommendations of the health authorities," says Minister of the Interior Maria Ohisalo.

The Border Guard is working in cooperation with the health authorities

In its announcement today, the Government advised the public to avoid non-essential travel. Members of the public must monitor and comply with travel instructions, and a travel notification must be made in the case of absolutely necessary travel. Measures are being taken to ensure that travel information is up-to-date and Coronavirus Info Points are being extended to Finland’s land borders.

As a general rule, any suspected infections detected during border checks will be directed to healthcare services. So far, no suspected cases have been detected at border crossing points.

Where it is deemed necessary, for instance to prevent a serious threat to public health, the Government may decide to close a certain border crossing point for a fixed period or until further notice. In addition, the Border Guard has the possibility of preventing an individual from entering Finland’s external borders if the individual is deemed to pose a threat to public health. The entry of a Finnish citizen, however, may not be prevented.

If, in the event of a worsening epidemic, foreign persons from a particular country or region were to be prevented from entering Finland, this would require a separate decision by the health authorities. The Border Guard will continue to deal with the situation together with the health authorities. In all cases, decisions aiming to maintain public health are the responsibility of the health authorities.

Cross-border traffic between Finland and the rest of the EU is not regularly monitored. It is not possible to reintroduce border controls temporarily at the EU’s internal borders due to a risk to public health. Internal border checks may be reinstated on the basis of a serious threat to public order or internal security; for example, if the healthcare system is at risk of collapse.

The police will carry out their urgent duties at all times

The police maintain an up-to-date picture of the situation and have just updated their contingency plans. The police are a preparedness organisation that functions at all times and is constantly prepared, for example, for changes in its activities brought about by absences due to illness. Urgent duties are carried out in all situations, and this is also the basis for police preparedness. Police employees have been instructed on preventive measures and on cases of exposure. If the Government makes decisions relating to the coronavirus outbreak, the police are prepared to implement them within the limits of their powers.

Rescue services and emergency response centres provide security in everyday emergencies

Municipalities are responsible for ensuring that rescue services are prepared for the spread of the coronavirus. Rescue services have been instructed on preventing infections. Rescue services are responsible for securing services in cases of illness, for example through personnel arrangements. Priority will be given to urgent situations where the health and lives of humans are at risk and to other emergency calls.

If you suspect that you or someone else has been infected with or exposed to the coronavirus, you should not call the emergency number 112. For instructions on treatment, please contact the national helpline at 0295 535 535 and your health centre. The emergency number is to be used only in urgent situations when life or health is at risk. The same rule always applies, whether dealing with the coronavirus or any other illness.

Unnecessary calls to the emergency number put a strain on emergency response centres and may delay access to assistance for persons in emergency situations.

Reception centres are prepared

The Finnish Immigration Service is prepared for the possible spread of the coronavirus and is cooperating with the health authorities. Reception centres are prepared for the possible spread of infectious diseases. The employees in reception centres include healthcare personnel.

Asylum seekers are always subject to an initial health check after their arrival in the country. The health check examines individuals’ symptoms and illnesses and takes into account whether they have resided in the area affected by the epidemic.

The Ministry of the Interior supports its administrative branch

The Ministry of the Interior is participating in the national and international cooperation required by the situation and is preparing for the possibility that the situation will become more difficult. The Ministry is safeguarding its leadership and functional capacity by issuing instructions for employees on remote work, meetings and travel.

The Department for Rescue Services of the Ministry of the Interior is Finland's Responsible Authority in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which has been activated due to the coronavirus outbreak. In practice, this means that the European Commission can, among other things, support the Member States with material assistance, send assistance teams and finance costs.

Inquiries:

Kirsi Pimiä, Permanent Secretary, tel. +358 295 488 203
Olli Lampinen, Head of Preparedness, tel. +358 295 488 514
Jarno Lappalainen, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. +358 40 053 6973 (requests for interviews with the Minister of the Interior)