Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of asylum applications has significantly diminished in Finland.
According to the Finnish Immigration Service (Migri), for the time being, no asylum applications have been submitted at Finnish borders after the restrictions on border traffic came into force on 19 March 2020.
The immigration agency received just 36 new asylum applications between 19 March and 5 April. Migri says those applicants have already resided in Finland before the restrictions on entry came into force due to the Covid-19.
The date of arrival and the travel route of 2 applicants are still under examination through asylum investigation.
460 applications this year
In total, 460 first asylum applications have been submitted so far in 2020. Of them, 185 were sent in January, 135 in February and 131 in March, during the whole month.
Migri says the asylum applications already submitted will be processed despite the exceptional situation caused by the disease. Asylum interviews have been temporarily interrupted since 16 March 2020, but they "will be continued next week on a limited basis."
‘We will primarily interview the most urgent clients, such as those in a vulnerable position,’ says Director of Asylum Unit Antti Lehtinen.
Asylum interviews will only be held in such premises where staff members and clients can be sufficiently protected from potential coronavirus infections. The equipment of interview rooms used include plexiglas screens providing protection against the transmission of droplets.
Coronavirus risk and newcomers
According to Migri, an application for international protection can be submitted even during this exceptional situation. The application can only be submitted in Finland, as usual.
The police or Border Guard will receive the application when the asylum seeker arrives in Finland and guide the applicant to a reception centre.
If the asylum seeker arrives in Finland from abroad, the reception centre will guide the applicant to circumstances corresponding to a 14-day quarantine, minimising close contacts with other clients and staff members.
The procedure is the same as that applied to Finns returning from abroad.
All asylum seekers will undergo an initial health examination at the reception centre in accordance with the normal procedure.
Migri says guidance to asylum seekers about the Covid-19 and the effects of the exceptional situation has been provided to asylum seekers in their native languages.