Finland will soon require all UK travelers to take a COVID test before departure, and further border restrictions are due to be announced today (December 16).
The rule applies to all non-EU citizens and deals a particular blow to the tourism sector by Lapland – in the north of the Nordic country.
As of this afternoon, travelers from the UK, Denmark and Norway – where omicron spreads fastest – are required to give a sample to the border if they cannot show a recent negative result.
Currently, visitors from other countries outside the Schengen area only need to show proof of vaccination. But in response to the spread of the omicron variant, Finnish authorities have announced that a negative test result is also needed from Tuesday, December 21.
The test must be taken within 48 hours before travel. As the restrictions have not yet been finalized, it is not yet clear whether a PCR test will be necessary or whether an antigen test will suffice.
“According to the new ruling, passengers arriving from outside the EU and the Schengen area who have received a full set of vaccinations would continue to be required to have a negative covid-19 test result no earlier than 48 hours in addition to the vaccination certificate, “a statement from the Finnish Interior Ministry bed.
New border restrictions are expected to be announced today, after Finland recorded more than 2,000 new cases of COVID yesterday – its highest level since the start of the pandemic.
What do the looming rules mean for Lapland holidays?
With its reindeer sledges and snow-capped trees, Finnish Lapland has always been a popular destination this time of year.
Just last week, the number of tourists to Lapland was expected to reach pre-pandemic levels, with 80 chartered flights to Kuusamo airport, in the region of Northern Ostrobothnia, just below the winter hot spot.
With the new rules set to apply from Tuesday, some pre-Christmas vacationers will have avoided the need for pre-testing, but it could add an additional admin for those arriving just before Christmas or for the New Year.
A number of other European countries have taken swift action to tighten their borders in response to the highly transmissible variant of omicron. Starting today, EU and non-EU travelers will need to take a pre-departure COVID test before arriving in Italy.
France decided to exclude British tourists in particular, ruling that only those with a “compelling reason” can enter from Saturday.
You can search for more information on the Visit Finland website here, or come back to this article for more updates.