Finland to relax travel restrictions for Sweden, Norway, Germany

Ministers will outline the full details of their new hybrid travel scheme on Friday morning, but gave reporters some key details already on Thursday evening.

File picture showing interior of Helsinki Airport / Credit: Finavia

Ministers have agreed to relax travel restrictions for a number of European countries, after the second day of late night discussions to come up with a new hybrid border strategy. The move comes amid a rising number of coronavirus cases in general across Europe.

Although full details of the whole scheme won’t be announced until Friday morning, several ministers spoke to journalists outside House of the Estates in Helsinki on Thursday night to outline the main points of the scheme.

From 19th September travel to Finland for any reason, without a recommendation for self-isolation will be allowed from countries where there’s been up to 20 confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population in the previous two weeks. Finland’s current bar is much lower than that, at just 8-10 positive tests per 100,000 population.

“From Saturday next week it is possible to travel to Finland from Sweden and Germany without quaraintine” says Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green).

“Finland will continue border checks at the country’s internal [Schengen] borders until 22nd November, so that there is time to prepare a new entry model based on coronavirus testing” she adds.

It’s likely that in the next few months travel to Finland from a country with a higher rate of infection than 25 will be possible with proof of a negative coronavirus test: the ‘test-to-travel’ model.

“This is important for Finland in terms of business travel and also a big issue for Finnair, which is now in a different competitive situation than other European countries” says Minister for Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä (Centre).

Some countries which still do not fall into the new category for travel include the UK, France, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

Estonia exceeds the current low limit, and the new higher limit, but there has been no official word if or when travel from Estonia will be restricted again.