Traficom to impose 50 per cent transport capacity limit in HUS region to combat spread of coronavirus

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom has issued a decision limiting the maximum permitted number of passengers on roads and railways as well as domestic maritime transport in the region of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District (HUS). In force from 27 March to 25 April 2021, the decision will see maximum transport capacity capped at 50 per cent.

In response to a notification submitted by the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa, Traficom has issued a decision regarding the need for temporary transport capacity limits to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic in the region’s transport services. The decision is based on analysis carried out by the agency in collaboration with health authorities and transport operators in the region.

Traficom has concluded that the seriousness of the current situation in the HUS region justifies the last-resort measure of imposing limitations on the maximum permitted number of passengers. Traficom considers capping transport capacity necessary in the context of measures designed to combat the spread of the epidemic.

The restrictions will apply to all services used to transport more than ten passengers in road, railway and domestic maritime transport. Their scope covers services that are open to all customers as well as those targeted at a limited group, but excludes passengers born in or after 2008 on weekday services. If students in grades 7–9 return to school, this exception is extended to passengers born in or after 2005. In addition, the decision may not prevent the use of statutory services or the performance of official duties by civil servants.

A number of special groups, including schoolchildren, are entitled to certain statutory services. As a result of the need to ensure the provision of these services, the maximum permitted number of passengers may be exceeded temporarily. In such cases, it is particularly important that the increased risk of exposure be mitigated by observing hygiene measures, including face masks and handwashing.

The restrictions do not apply to air services or international maritime transport. Also exempted are night trains’ sleeping cabins and other comparable arrangements in which the entire vehicle or a particular section of it is used exclusively by passengers from a single household, as restricting their use is not considered necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

Services crossing the borders of the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District fall under the scope of the restrictions on the sections of their routes that are located within the HUS region. The maximum permitted number of passengers refers to the maximum capacity of the vehicle in question as specified in the Transport Register.

Transport service providers and transport operators acting on their behalf must ensure that capacity limits are enforced by means of arrangements that can be clearly identified and monitored.

“In light of the serious situation in the HUS region, we must implement transport capacity limits as a last-resort measure under the Communicable Diseases Act. The incidence of the virus is extremely high, and tracing those exposed on local transport is particularly challenging,” said Deputy Director-General Jarkko Saarimäki.

Full Decision (in Finnish)

Enquiries

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

With the entry into force of amendments to the Communicable Diseases Act on 22 February 2021, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom was designated a competent health security authority. The Act empowers Traficom to impose temporary restrictions on the allowed number of passengers in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Traficom may decide to impose limitations as necessary to control the spread of the virus, if it is apparent that hygiene and social distancing measures are insufficient. Decisions issued to this end may contain obligations for a transport service provider or a transport operator acting on its behalf to limit the maximum number of passengers allowed onboard its services by up to 50%. Such a decision, which applies exclusively to services used to transport more than 10 passengers at a time, may be in force for a maximum of one month and must be withdrawn immediately if the conditions on which it is based are no longer met.