Reader's Letter

Hard life for travelers. Restrictions, harassment, punishment, crazy spending. As if all of a sudden being a traveler has become a crime. Those who travel often know perfectly well which and how many restrictions they must face, the paradox therefore becomes that those who travel are the most controlled people, so the least dangerous, but despite those fact, for some unknown reasons a traveler must be punished.

I travel to Finland both for work and visit my girlfriend, so far I think there is nothing wrong with that. Covid test at departure, check at the airport, on arrival, on departure, practically always. So far everything’s fine, it is done for the health of citizens.

But all of a sudden someone decides to take advantage of it. In the happiest country in the world, a Covid test costs from 250 to 300 euros, this is every trip, practically a tax that silently is good for everyone.

The site I consulted says that the Covid test is free in the presence of symptoms. As it happens on my last trip to Helsinki the last two days have been windy, so I found myself having a sore throat. Wind or Covid? Of course, in this period even a sore knee suggests Covid, but a sore throat is almost the confirmation. I then go to a drive-in to get tested, pointing out that I have symptoms.

Here begins the fun/dramatic part. First of all (in one of the most advanced countries in the world) they don't ask you for an email, but only for a telephone number. Why? Because in this way you will only receive a text message saying if you are positive or negative, no email to download. The text message is of course not accepted by airlines, so you have to go to the clinic to pick up the printed version. Pretty strange, in the age where everything’s online you have to walk in the clinic.

Upon arrival at the clinic, you are charged € 302.00 for the printed test result !!!!!
That's right, 302.00 Euros.

Everyone (including the clinic staff) we all agree that we are talking about a legalized robbery (therefore not a robbery). Even at the airport the personnel are embarrassed, as it happened in the clinic, but in fact take it or leave it. “After all, it's you who decided to take the test in that clinic” (I'm told) but that's not true, I just followed the instructions.

I don’t pretend to have a service for free, but now I wonder what morality people have to when they ask 300 euros for a swab. Moreover, let’s keep in mind that are the governments asking for the Covid test, so we are obliged to do it.
Let's say, for example, that a family is forced to travel, in addition to the ticket price they will have to pay the sum of 300 euros each, three people 900 euros. Is this human? If I live in a country where corruption is a  way of life I could probably understand, but in a country of freedoms such behavior is absolutely discriminatory, either you pay or travel, a kind of legalized prison.

At the reception, I am told that those people traveling for work have the test paid for by the company, as if stealing money from companies it’s a correct practice. In Italy in tests (and I don't want to defend a country that is full of wrong things) a test in a private facility costs 30 euros, I find it hard to think that the same test can cost 10 times as much. I just amazed at how such an incorrect and inhuman practice is accepted by all.

I wonder how an immigrant family or maybe even a solo traveler can afford these prices. But how can this be accepted? Everyone I have spoken to is ashamed, but since we are in the happiest country in the world probably even get legally robbed is part of happiness. Who knows, possible.

Andrea Turri