Viking Grace towed to Turku, Finland, after accidental grounding in Åland

VIKING GRACE arrived at the Port of Turku on Sunday evening after running aground in windy conditions close to the Port of Mariehamn, Åland Islands, on Saturday.

The passenger ferry began its journey with approximately 260 passengers and most of the crew on board shortly after 1pm on Sunday, after authorities had determined that the ferry had sustained no major damage in the accidental grounding and journey presented no safety risks.

A total of 331 passengers and 98 crew were aboard the ferry at the time of the grounding, which took place about 500 metres south of the Port of Mariehamn.

The ferry will be towed for further inspection and repairs to Turku Repair Yard in Naantali, South-west Finland, Johanna Boijer-Svahnström, the director of communications at Viking Line, told Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday.

Passengers from Åland who were aboard the vessel at the time of grounding disembarked in Mariehamn, while those from Sweden returned to Sweden aboard Viking Amorella.

Boijer-Svahnström on Sunday confirmed to YLE that the weather conditions had a role in the incident but underlined that the cause of the grounding will be determined as the investigation progresses.

“The wind reached gust speeds of roughly 30 metres per second. One gust had pushed the vessel against the shore,” Jan Hansen, the CEO of Viking Line, commented to YLE on Saturday.

A preliminary investigation into the incident has been launched also by the Safety Investigation Authority (OTKES).

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Traficom announces two-week suspension of flights between Turku and Skopje

FLIGHTS BETWEEN Turku and Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, will be suspended for two weeks as of Friday, 28 August, per a decision by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).

The once-weekly flights will not be operated between today and 10 September.

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) estimated in a statement requested by the agency that suspending the flights temporarily would be a proportionate measure to limit the spread of the new coronavirus in Finland.

THL stated that tests and other measures suggest an unusually high number of people who could spread the virus have been on the flights and that the decision to order all passengers into quarantine was justified.

“The requirement that passengers must get tested in advance has reduced the infection risk posed to other passengers, but there is not yet enough evidence of the implementation and effectiveness of advance testing,” stated Traficom.

Due to the incomplete coverage of tests conducted on passengers upon their arrival and the difficulty of making sure passengers observe the two-week quarantine in Finland, THL reminded that the possibility remains that the continuing the flights poses a risk of the virus spreading in the population in spite of the current measures.

The decision was made on grounds of sections in the aviation act enabling authorities to prohibit or limit air traffic in order to solve sudden and short-term problems caused by unpredictable and unavoidable circumstances.

Entry restrictions amended, rules for restaurants extended

The Finnish government yesterday amended the restrictions on entries across the external border by prohibiting entry for wild-berry pickers from third countries that are subject to entry restrictions adopted due to the coronavirus epidemic. The entry prohibition will enter into force on Friday, 28 August.

The decision has no impact on the possibility of berry pickers from Thailand to travel to Finland, as no entry restrictions are currently imposed on residents of Thailand.

The government also announced the extension of its restrictions on bars, cafés and restaurants until the end of September. Such establishments will thus remain obliged to make sure patrons have their own seat, the possibility to wash their hands, do not come into unnecessary close contact with others, and keep their facilities and surfaces clean.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi

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