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Hygiene and capacity measures designed to keep travel safe now compulsory for transport service providers

Amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act will see transport service pro-viders obligated to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The amendments entered into force on 22 February, with the new requirements scheduled to ap-ply until 30 June 2021.

The new rules make combating the coronavirus mandatory under the law for transport operators, which had previously acted voluntarily in accordance with recommendations. The aim is to protect citizens’ health and reduce the risk of transmission. Common rules help ensure that travelling is safe and safeguard the functioning of the transport system.

The obligations apply to passenger transport providers such as bus, taxi and rail operators, shipping companies and other waterway transport operators, airlines and public transport providers as well as other passenger transport operators irrespective of the number of passengers transported. Ports, airports and passenger terminals are also required to observe the rules.

“Transport service providers have already taken a wide range of health security measures on a voluntary basis. By reinforcing these actions, we can further increase customers’ trust in transport services,” said Traficom Deputy Director-General Jarkko Saarimäki.

Measures made compulsory under the Communicable Diseases Act

  1. Customers must be provided with adequate facilities to maintain the necessary level of hygiene, including hand hygiene. For example, hand sanitiser must be made available.
  2. Operators must advise customers on ways to prevent transmission, including social distancing, hand washing, and using face masks.
  3. Spaces and surfaces used by customers and passengers must be cleaned more frequently, and effective ventilation ensured.
  4. In order to protect customers on the transport network, social distancing must be enabled while taking into account the particular characteristics of each space or means of transport. Operators are advised to utilise the recommendations issued by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
  5. Measures must be taken to ensure that passengers can maintain the necessary distance from each other when boarding or alighting.

The obligations apply to means of transport, stations, terminals and other comparable indoor areas as well as delimited outdoor areas used for boarding or alighting.

Passengers have a role to play in ensuring safe travel

The new rules are designed to ensure that passengers can use the transport network as safely as possible. We can all do our part to help by social distancing, wearing a mask and maintaining good hand hygiene.

Cooperative enforcement

The implementation of the measures is enforced by municipalities, Regional State Administrative Agencies and the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. The primary point of contact for reports of inadequate hygiene or capacity measures should be the service provider itself.

Repeated deficiencies can be reported to Traficom. If the measures related to hygiene, capacity and passenger flow control are not considered sufficient, Traficom may limit the maximum permitted number of passengers in transports of more than ten passengers. “We will do everything we can to avoid imposing restrictions on public transport providers. Operators’ own measures play a key role in making sure that the need for these decisions does not arise,” said Saarimäki.

Enquiries

Report repeated deficiencies in hygiene, capacity and passenger flow control measures to Traficom (page available in Finnish and Swedish).

Jarkko Saarimäki, Deputy Director-General, tel. +358 29 539 0576