Ambassador Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen’s message to Finns

Ambassador Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen’s message to Finns

Suurlähettiläs Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen

Dear Finns in Israel,

I hope you and your closed ones are in doing well after these long weeks of corona. As you know, the restrictions are being eased in Israel rapidly. Life seems to be moving towards the normal (or “new normal”), which for sure feels good. The restrictions have worked and we can all thank ourselves and each other. In the new normal, we must continue to look after our own and other people's health. The instructions and regulations of the authorities must be taken seriously. The Israeli Ministry of Health website works well and information is also provided in English.

In any case, we hope that the positive development will continue. In Israel, like in Finland, the corona situation is currently relatively good. However, the fear is that the crisis will have long-term impact on people’s well-being and the economy worldwide. Finland follows with interest the exit strategy of Israel. Perhaps something good will remain with us from this exceptional period, such as caring for each other and appreciating basic things in life.

Monitoring and dealing with the corona situation are still central in the work of the embassy. We advise and assist Finnish citizens, analyze and share information concerning the situation in Israel and the actions of the local authorities that have effect on Finnish citizens, and look after the health of our own personnel and customers.

The latest information on the embassy's activities, including the corona situation, can be found on our website and in social media:

·  http://www.finland.org.il

·  http://www.facebook.com/FinnishEmbassyTelAviv

·  http://www.twitter.com/FinIsrael

Other activities of the embassy will be gradually picking up. Israel has a new government. On the political side, we work closely with the EU. This year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Israel. The year had a wonderful start with the visit of the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö. For the rest of the year, we may need to adjust our plans according to the situation.

Work to promote trade and economic cooperation continues also in the current situation. Events have been organized virtually, for example in the field of innovations and energy. Israel's innovation activities related the COVID-19 are also interesting for Finland. Perhaps there are opportunities for cooperation in that area, too. Prime Minister Marin has emphasized the importance of international cooperation in the face of a widespread global pandemic.

On promoting cultural cooperation, we are planning the activities for the fall considering the situation. Finnish cultural offerings, including museum tours and concerts, can be found on the Internet through the following links, among others:

https://museot.fi/vieraile-virtuaalimuseoissa

https://oopperabaletti.fi/stage24/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9uGts9-_6QIVkRsYCh2P0Q_XEAMYAiAAEgJIIvD_BwE

http://www.helsinginkaupunginorkesteri.fi

http://www.yle.fi/rso

https://www.koronakonsertit.fi/tulevat-keikat/

It is important information for the many of you that the embassy has opened the customer service. We receive customers by appointment for urgent and necessary passport applications, population register notifications and notarial services. We will return to providing more comprehensive services when possible again. Appointments can be scheduled by e-mail [email protected] .

When you arrive at the embassy, ​​please take into consideration the current regulations and travel restrictions in Israel:

• We can only take 2 people into the customer service room at a time
• Customers should wash or disinfect their hands upon entering and leaving the Consulate
• Wearing a facemask is mandatory
• Customers' departure and arrival times are recorded in the embassy logbook

For inquiries, you can call Mon-Fri between 09.00 – 12.00. Due to the corona situation,
delivery and handling times may be longer than normal.

Regarding travelling, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs worldwide travel recommendation is now: avoid unnecessary travel. This means in a pandemic situation, for example, leisure travel. The coronavirus and its spreading continue to pose a major global risk. Due to a pandemic, the situation in any country or region can change suddenly and unpredictably. Particularly sensitive to rapid changes are, for example, local quarantine regulations, restrictions on movement, and closures of services and cancellations of flights already booked.

Both Israel and Finland have a two-week mandatory quarantine when returning from abroad. Currently, only Israelis and permanent residents can enter to Israel. Israel has not yet announced a schedule for opening the country’s borders to foreigners, but planning and preparations are underway. It is also important to keep in mind that those with a tourist visa must leave the country before it expires. In exceptional circumstances, tourists must be able to demonstrate in writing that the situation is exceptional. More information on the website of the Ministry of the Interior.

At the moment, there are no regular flights from Israel to Europe. We aim at providing comprehensive information about those few flights that have a connection to Finland. There have been such flights via Minsk, Frankfurt or London, for example.

Unfortunately, Finnair has just announced that it does not plan to fly to Tel Aviv until March 2021. More information on Finnair's press release. We hope and expect that during the summer, flight connections will be opened to other parts of Europe, from where you can continue to Finland.

The latest information on operating flights can be found on the website of Ben Gurion Airport. The embassy cannot confirm the future flights. Currently, it is recommended is to purchase a plane ticket directly from the airline.

Again, I would like to kindly remind everyone to make a travel notification so that we can pass on the information directly and contact you if necessary. During the last weeks, our consular department has sent out bulletins and status updates on the corona situation and the availability of customer services to those who have made a travel notification. If you have not received such messages, please do the notification.

To the end, I quote the comforting words of President Mauno Koivisto: "Unless we know for sure how it will be, we can suppose that everything will be well."

I wish you all well and good health.

 

Best regards on behalf of the entire embassy,

Kirsikka Lehto-Asikainen

coronaviruses