More travel restrictions lifted, but journeys come with warnings

A number of new countries have been added to Finland's official 'quarantine free' travel destinations - but other countries were taken off the list after the Covid-19 situation deteriorated there.

File picture of departure board at Helsinki Airport showing canceled flights, 25th November 2019 / Credit: News Now Finland

Finnish authorities have decided to relax the self-isolation rules for travelers coming from a number of countries, including some popular holiday destinations.

However some other countries have been taken off that list, and as coronavirus cases continue to rise around the world – including localised spikes in countries like Spain – there are warnings that the situation could change suddenly.

From Monday, passengers arriving in Finland won’t have to go to quarantine if they’ve come from Thailand, Andorra, South Korea, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Cyprus, Rwanda, San Marino, Tunisia, Uruguay, New Zealand, the Vatican, Netherlands, Belgium; Iceland, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta Norway, Germany Slovakia, Denmark, Hungary or Estonia.

However anyone coming to Finland from Algeria, Australia, Austria, Slovenia or Switzerland will have to go into self-isolation for 14 days – a change from before.

Several countries which are popular summertime holiday destinations for Finns, including Croatia, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Turkey are not yet on the ‘approved’ list for quarantine-free travel – even if some tour operators have already started to sell package holidays.

Public health authorities in Finland have set a maximum criteria of eight confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the last two weeks before a country can be added to the quarantine-free travel list.

Officials have said that situations can change quickly, local lockdowns can be put into effect with little notice, and that travelers should always keep up to date with the situation at the destination during their travel.

In Spain for example, where there has been a sharp rise of cases in the last few weeks, there are local lockdowns and new restrictions enforced in Barcelona, La Noguera and El Segria. These new measures limit the number of people meeting in public or private; keep gyms and nightclubs closed; restrict bars, restaurants, cultural activities and sports; and forbid people from leaving homes except for essential activities.

Brisk demand for foreign holidays

After a spring lockdown and travel restrictions, Finns have been keen to snap up the limited number of foreign holidays on offer.

Earlier this month tour operator TUI started their charter flights to Greece, with enough demand that they had to put on an extra plane.

“First we had Crete and Rhodes and they were sold out, and then we added another flight and it was sold out. We have two destinations and they are super popular because they are the first destinations the Finnish government opened up” to traditional package holiday travel, TUI’s Laura Aaltonen explained at the time.

Aaltonen said that the local tourist industry in Crete had been very enthusiastic in welcoming Finnish holidaymakers back with lots of extra cleaning and new hygiene norms in place at hotels and in restaurants.

“There there’s a two metre social distancing between sunbeds on the beach, and the biggest thing you see you have to wear a mask when you fly, and here when you’re indoors or in public places like a bus” Aaltonen told News Now Finland.

Tour operators are also reporting renewed interest in winter holiday destinations even if they don’t know for certain if travel there will be possible or not.