HELSINKI – Test negative and meet Santa Claus

Starting from next Saturday (19 September), travellers from countries where the number of diagnosed coronavirus infections has been less than 25 per 100,000 inhabitants during the last two weeks are free to enter, while travellers from countries where the number exceeds 25, are free to enter if they take a coronavirus test within three days of arriving in Finland, the government decided on 11 September.

If the government continues lifting travel restrictions, this could be a blessing for the tourism industry in Finnish Lapland. This year at Christmas, just like every Christmas, the region is hoping to welcome some 50,000 tourists, many of them from the UK and Asia.

Two months before the peak season health officials are pondering on how to organise testing if needed. Currently, the plan is to do group testing in specific testing points.

“It would be really difficult to start collecting samples from different hotels and cabins, some very far away – it would require a lot of staff. The most efficient model would be for people to arrive at a single testing centre,” Markku Broas, chief physician of infectious diseases at Lapland Hospital, told the Finnish Broadcasting Company in an interview.

How to test those coming to Lapland outside tourist groups and charter flights remains a question to be solved, however. And although some hope is being placed on breathalysers, they will probably not be ready and approved before Christmas. (Pekka Vänttinen |

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