The COVID-19 pandemic in Finland is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). On 29 January 2020, the first case in Finland was confirmed, when a Chinese tourist vOn 5 March, five new cases were confirmed: three in Uusimaa, one in Pirkanmaa and one in Tavastia Proper. One of the cases in Uusimaa, a working age woman, is associated with the earlier cases in the Helsinki region. The other cases, two working age men, had travelled in northern Italyisiting Ivalo from Wuhan tested positive for the virus.
On 16 March, the Government also announced they had decided to take the following measures by issuing a decree on implementing the Emergency Powers Act. The measures were scheduled to be in place until 13 April, after approval by the Parliament of Finland, but were later extended to 13 May: All schools will be closed, not including early education.Most government-run public facilities (theatres, libraries, museums etc.) will be shut down. The capacity of social and healthcare will be increased in the private and public sector, while less critical activity will be decreased.Preparations for the shutdown of borders will start, and citizens or permanent residents returning to Finland will be placed under a 2-week quarantine.
On 22 September, the government announced reintroduction of quarantine recommendations for people entering from Sweden and Estonia beginning on 28 September because the number of cases per capita had exceeded the limit in these countries. According to the Border Guard reintroduction of checks at the aforementioned land borders is “entirely possible” On 22 September THL announced they will issue regional face mask recommendations for public places in parts of Finland where the number of cases are on the rise.On 24 September, Finland began to use dogs to detect coronavirus. On 1 October, THL announced that the number of detected coronavirus cases in Finland had exceeded 10,000.
On 16 March, the Finnish Government, in cooperation with the President of Finland, declared a state of emergency in the country. A list of measures intended to slow down the spreading of the virus and to protect at-risk groups were implemented in accordance with the Emergency Powers Act (1552/2011), the Communicable Diseases Act (1227/2016), and other legislation. The measures include the closing of schools (excluding early education) and most government-run public facilities, limiting public gatherings, and closing the country’s borders. On 20 March, the government announced a €15 billion support package to aid businesses and individuals suffering from the economic slowdown resulting from the virus.
Similar to other countries, the emergence of the virus has increased sales and stockpiling of daily goods, such as groceries and hygiene products. Fears of quarantine and potential shortages has led to panic buying, particularly of canned goods, hand sanitiser, and toilet paper. On 15 March 2020, the Central Finnish Cooperative Society (S-Group subsidiary) reported an estimated two to three times as many visitors as usual. In addition to a reduction in economic activity, the pandemic has significantly reduced the use of cash in Finland. The Bank of Finland – the central bank of the country – revealed in August 2020 that based on the amount of orders from and returns of cash to the bank, the use of cash had diminished by 15 percent compared to 2019.
According to the OP Financial Group, cash withdrawals had decreased up to 40 to 50 percent compared to 2019. Mobile and contactless payments increased in popularity; according to Juha Andelin, the Development Director of Kesko, contactless payments increased the most, reaching 60 percent of all card payments. In conjunction with the government, many companies have ramped up in a short amount of time (roughly two months) the production of different equipment, such as respirators, for the healthcare system.
The government is also preparing to keep domestic production after the crisis, so that in the future there will be availability from the start of the crisis. This is because of problems in the global supply. There are also other private companies retooling to produce products for the healthcare sector and consumer market on their own initiative.