Nordic countries look to ease travel restrictions in June

Norway and Denmark will allow tourists to travel between the two countries from June 15, their governments announced on Friday, although border crossings with Sweden, where the number of COVID-19 infections is higher, will remain restricted.

"We can't open too suddenly; that would jeopardize everything we've accomplished," Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in a news conference.

Denmark will also welcome tourists from Germany and Iceland. All foreign visitors will need to book at least six nights' accommodation before arriving and they will not be allowed to stay in the capital Copenhagen, where most of the country's coronavirus infections are.

However, tourists from Sweden will still not be able to visit. With 36,476 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,350 deaths, Sweden's death rate per capita from the disease is many times higher than the combined total of the other Nordic countries. Meanwhile, Sweden has advised all its citizens against traveling abroad until July 15.

The Saltstraumen Bridge in Norway. /VCG

The Saltstraumen Bridge in Norway. /VCG

The Finnish government on Friday allowed domestic travel "if the security instructions against COVID-19 are adhered to." Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintila noted in a press release that the tourism sector has suffered greatly from the COVID-19 pandemic and that domestic travelers could help the industry.

"But as the pandemic is not yet over, I appeal to both the travelers and the tourism operators that we all do our part on behalf of safe tourism," he said.

The government has published a set of new guidelines on safe domestic travel. They urge travelers to avoid all unnecessary social contact and confirm that in the event of sickness, those on the road have the right to access local health care. Tourism operators must ensure adequate hygiene.

The same day, parliament passed a law to allow restaurants and cafes in the country to reopen on June 1 after a near two-month closure. Yet, the opening hours and the number of customers have been restricted.

(With input from agencies)

(Cover: A couple admires the polar day sunrise at Yllästunturi in Kolari, northern Finland, May 28, 2020. /VCG)