The first confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case in Finland was reported on January 29, 2020. The COVID-19 infection was detected in Lapland, Northern Finland, where a Chinese tourist from Wuhan tested positive for the virus. However, after January, it took well over a month before the epidemic started to spread in the country. Towards the end of March, the number of new COVID-19 cases picked up and peaked on April 6, when 207 new cases were registered in a single day. Overall, numbers have steadily decreased since April, and most of the new cases have been discovered around Helsinki. The first death caused by COVID-19 in Finland was reported on March 20, 2020, and the number of deaths has since increased to over 330.
According to economic forecasts, Finland’s export-driven economy is expected to be severely hit in 2020. The Finnish GDP is projected to fall by at least 5.5 percent, and growth will likely remain slow in the following years even if the economy recovers relatively quickly. So far, many companies have tried to overcome the acute crisis by laying off their employees. Around a third of Finnish companies estimated that they were facing a higher risk of insolvency as of March, but the COVID-19 impact on bankruptcies has not been noticeable yet. The service sector, in particular travel, tourism, culture, and food services, have hardly been hit by the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on consumer spending data, Finns used almost 90 percent less money on culture and hotels in May 2020.
COVID-19 has not only changed consumer behavior, but also significantly increased the time people spend at home. Based on survey results, Finns made the quickest shift to teleworking in Europe, and even 75 percent of employees switched to home office entirely. Regarding other measures against the coronavirus pandemic, mandatory face masks in public have remained unpopular among Finns, as most people prefer freedom of choice in wearing them. For the time being, many people in Finland are planning to travel less or not at all during the summer, although the COVID-19 restrictions have been partly lifted in nearby regions.