Finland lifts border restrictions, Lapland tourism businesses happy

Sweden, Finland border in the Torne vally. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents News Observer)
The Finnish Government on Friday decided to open for Sweden and Finland from next Saturday, September 19.

Removal of restrictions means Norwegians and Swedes can go to Finland for holiday without quarantine. The same goes for travelers arriving from Iceland, Poland, Germany and Cyprus, as well as residents of Australia, Canada and Japan traveling from their home country to Finland.

For tourism, the opening to Japan is important as Finnair flies to Helsinki from several destinations in the Asian country.

Finland temporarily reintroduced travel restrictions on the border to Norway in the north on August 19, with a few exceptions allowing for people living near the border to cross.

A new decision on possible travel restrictions to Finland will be taken on October 18, the government informs.

Then, from November 23, internal border control for travelers from all Schengen countries will be lifted. Foreigners from inside the Schengen area must, though, present a certificate of a negative COVID-19 test at the border. Visitors staying more than 72 hours will have to take a second test.

Tourism businesses in northern Finland welcome a more open border. Late November is the start for the peak-season of Santa Claus and winter adventure travel.

Santa Claus park in Rovaniemi. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

Sanna Kärkkäinen, Managing Director of Visit Rovaniemi, says traveling to Lapland during Christmas season would be possible through testing procedures.

“With this alignment we are talking about finally opening Finland for travel, however there are cost effects of course and uncertainty that will have an obvious impact on the number of travellers. Even though this is not the optimal outcome, this is a step to the right direction, something we can build on, together,” Kärkkäinen says.

She adds that the close cooperation between Lapland travel companies and the regional hospital district enables a safe customer path for travelers of the “new normal.”

Related stories from around the North:

Antarctic: Why the pandemic’s pause on travel could be a defining moment for rethinking Antarctic tourism, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: In northwestern Canada, Yukon extends state of emergency, maintains travel bubble with British Columbia, CBC News

Denmark: Faroe Islands updates COVID-19 guidelines for travellers, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland approves revised COVID-19 strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland relaxes COVID-19 restrictions for the arts, allows rehearsals to resume, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Nornickel debuts in tourism, starts king crab safari in border area to Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russia’s Murmansk region counts more COVID-19 cases than neighboring Norway or Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish authorities tasked with preparing for second coronavirus wave, Radio Sweden

United States: Indigenous communities in Alaska harder hit by COVID-19, The Associated Press

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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