Our host city for planned 2021 Convention, Tampere, is located in Pirkanmaa region which has one of the largest numbers of new Covid-19 cases in Finland at the moment. It is not alone though: the Helsinki and Turku regions where the main airports and harbours are located have elevated incident numbers as well. At the moment, Pirkanmaa region’s hospital district recommends that the number of participants at public events would be limited to 50 persons and safe distance should be kept to others indoors, and a mask be worn. The number of recommended participants is far lower than we had planned for at any stage. We believe that organising the event for only 50 people at most would bring the costs unnecessary high for the participants and it wouldn’t really feel like a proper Convention with such a limited number of people. We have no way of securing f.ex. planned visits to places of interest in Tampere, as most venues are not booking visits for groups at the moment. Neither will they send their staff out to give a presentation, as most workplaces are recommending working from home and not taking part in any public events. Having all the guest speakers giving their presentations over Teams/Zoom/WhatsApp would not really be fair to the participants either.
Incident rates have risen in Europe, and unfortunately in the very countries we would expect many Bookcrossers would be travelling from. Finland has adapted a “traffic light model” to assess the risk of Covid-19 infections. At the moment the only safe, “green light” countries are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Uruguay, Singapore and Rwanda. You can enter Finland from these days without a quarantine period for the time being. Otherwise a voluntary 10 days’ quarantine is recommended to ALL passengers arriving to Finland. Though it is not monitored (at the moment at least), we wouldn’t want to risk anyone’s health! It might be that no participant would get sick, but what if they were to take the virus home and infect their child, friend or elderly neighbour?(You can find more on traffic light model https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases-and-vaccinations/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates/travel-and-the-coronavirus-pandemic)
Finnish Border Guard updates its guidelines on entry to Finland accordingly to the Covid-19 situation, and there’s no possible way of guaranteeing entry to Finland in case the Covid-19 case numbers keep rising. We have seen a period when all travel from abroad was restricted, and only those travelling to their homes/families in Finland or for work for essential reasons were granted entry to the country. Naturally everyone would be allowed to return to their homes, but there’s no way of knowing whether there’d be flights to all countries operating from Finland if borders are closed once again. Crossing land borders to Sweden, Norway and Russia was impossible in the spring, and marine traffic was put to a halt as well. If you didn’t have flights without a stop-over via a third country, you could be stuck in Finland… (You can find more on border traffic at Guidelines for border traffic during pandemic from 09.11.2020 - The Finnish Border Guard)
As we’ve learned, not all airlines have yet returned ticket fees to the passengers who had their flights cancelled last March. Not all hotels make refunds or offer the possibility to change the reservation dates, so travelling at the moment holds a great economic risk as well. We know it isn’t cheap to travel to Finland, nor are our hotels the cheapest ones in Europe, so at this moment with all the layoffs and downsizing in companies it wouldn’t be fair to expect anyone to tie their assets on travel that might not even happen.
There isn’t much more we can say than this: We are awfully sorry, but we don’t see a safe and sensible way we could host the Convention in Tampere on April 2021. We are truly hoping the world will soon see vaccines turn into reality and for us to have a safe way to meet each other again!
Anyhow, we would be more than happy to invite you all here in April 2023.