Finnish policy response to the coronavirus pandemic

Even though Finland still has a relatively low number of confirmed coronavirus cases, the Finnish government is taking determined action in order to protect the population and to safeguard the functioning of society and the economy. On 16 March 2020, Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin declared a national state of emergency and announced that her government is bringing emergency powers legislation before the parliament the following day. [1]

Mrs. Marin also presented a 19-point list of measures to address the pandemic. These measures are initially in force until 13 April 2020 and include, inter alia, the following:

  • Public gatherings of more than 10 persons are banned and spending time unnecessarily in public places is recommended to be avoided. Persons aged 70 or older must refrain from contact with other persons to the extent possible.
  • Daycare centers and pre-schools remain open for the time being, but schools and educational institutions are otherwise closed for on-site operations.
  • Public health care capacity is expanded, and private health care capacity is taken into public use if necessary. Non-urgent care is postponed. Retired or otherwise inactive health care personnel may be called to work.
  • In the case of critical personnel, exceptions will be made to the provisions of the Working Hours Act and the Annual Holidays Act in both the private and public sector. All public sector employees who do not work in critical sectors shall work off-site.
  • The movement of people may be restricted in order to prevent a serious danger to life and health. Finland will initiate preparations for closing the movement of people across its borders (returning Finnish citizens excepted). Those returning to the country will be placed into quarantine for two weeks.

The government also presented measures aimed to support the economy. These measures, initially planned to amount to approximately 5 billion euros, include the following:

  • The financing mandate of Finnvera, the state’s special company for enterprise finance, is doubled from 2 to 4 billion euros. Finnvera shall also cooperate with the banking sector in order to ensure companies’ access to liquidity.
  • The State Pension Fund of Finland (VER) shall purchase corporate bonds for an additional 1 billion euros.
  • A grace period shall be introduced for enterprises’ tax and pension payments.
  • Solvency rules of private pension funds are temporarily relaxed.
  • Business Finland – the state’s funding organization for innovation, trade, travel, and investment promotion – is given an additional 30 million euros and the Regional State Administrative Agencies an additional 50 million euros in order to address the effects of the epidemic in the most seriously affected industries (e.g. travel and services).
  • The government will prepare a complementing state aid scheme intended for distressed companies. The program will be notified to the European Commission.
  • Public social and health care services will receive 27 million euros of additional funding. Municipalities will receive an increased share of corporate tax revenue.
  • The labor market parties will be called upon to negotiate on measures to minimize layoffs and business disruptions.

Avance’s Economics and Policy practice (main points of contact: Partner Mikko Alkio, tel. +358 50 413 5502 / e-mail & Senior Economist Petri Rouvinen, tel. +358 50 367 3474 / e-mail is at your disposal for any queries you may have in relation to the measures outlined above as well as future Finnish policy responses in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

[1] The official press release can be viewed here