Seasonal workers set to enter Finland this summer amid pandemic

Elli Kallela with salad at the Hortiherttua Oy horticulture in Karjalohja, Finland, 07 May 2020. A few Ukrainian seasonal workers are working at the horticulture. [EPA-EFE/MAURI RATILAINEN]

Up to 10,000 people mostly from Ukraine, Russia and Thailand will arrive to work in the Finnish fields and greenhouses this summer despite fears of COVID-19 running high among locals.

However, organisers have assured everything is being done to ensure workers and their hosts are protected.

With the harvest on the way in south-western Finland, demand for labour will increase before reaching its peak at the start of berry picking season in the eastern part of the country.

According to the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners (MTK), the first workers have arrived in the country and more will come until the end of June.

Those who arrive in the country must present a certificate proving they recently tested negative for COVID-19, MTK’s business development director Marko Mäki-Hakola told the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE). The workers are tested once again upon arrival and then transported to their workplaces where they have to quarantine, Mäki-Hakola said.

The farms will also have to coordinate with the local hospitals and set up a health and safety plan for when the seasonal workers start.

While the Finnish agricultural sector counted about 3,000 seasonal workers in 2020, the Finnish immigration office approved more than 7,300 applications this year and there are said to be about another 1,200 applications waiting.

There are fears the sudden change in demographics could have effect coronavirus infection numbers. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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