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Lapland travel restrictions: Will Finland's new entry rules ruin Christmas?

Lapland tourism had almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
Lapland tourism had almost recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Copyright Getty/serts
Copyright Getty/serts
By Lottie Limb
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UK travellers now have to take a COVID test at the border, with more rules for non-EU citizens to be announced later today.


Finland will soon require all UK travellers to take a pre-departure COVID test, with more border restrictions due to be announced today (16 December).

The rule applies to all non-EU citizens, and is a particular blow to the tourism sector in Lapland - in the north of the Nordic country.

As of this afternoon, travellers from the UK, Denmark and Norway - where omicron is spreading fastest - are required to give a sample at the border if they can't show a recent negative result.

Currently, visitors from other countries outside the Schengen zone only need to present proof of vaccination. But in response to the spread of the omicron variant, the Finnish authorities have announced that a negative test result is also needed from Tuesday, 21 December.

The test must be taken within 48 hours before travelling. As the restrictions have yet to be finalised, it is not yet clear whether a PCR test will be needed or if an antigen one will suffice.

“According to the new decision, passengers arriving from outside the EU and the Schengen area who have received a full vaccination series would continue to be required to have a negative covid-19 test result less than 48 hours old in addition to the vaccination certificate,” a statement from Finland’s Ministry of Interior reads.

Further border restrictions are set to be announced today, after Finland recorded more than 2,000 new COVID cases yesterday - its highest since the pandemic began.

Johanna Geron/AP
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin has said that restrictions must be tightened.Johanna Geron/AP

What do the imminent rules mean for holidays in Lapland?

With its reindeer sleighs and snow-topped trees, Finnish Lapland has always been a popular destination at this time of year.

Just last week, the number of tourists flying to Lapland was expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, with 80 flights chartered to Kuusamo Airport, in the Northern Ostrobothnia region just below the winter hotspot.

With the new rules set to apply from Tuesday, some pre-Christmas holiday makers will have avoided the need for pre-tests, but it could add extra admin for those arriving just before Christmas, or for the New Year.

A number of other European countries have taken swift measures to tighten their borders in response to the highly transmissible omicron variant. From today, both EU and non-EU travellers will need to take a pre-departure COVID test before arriving in Italy.

France has moved to keep out British tourists in particular, ruling that only those with a “compelling reason” can enter from Saturday.

You can look out for more information on the Visit Finland site here, or check back on this article for further updates.

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