Swedish tourists still banned when Scandinavia opens internal borders

Swedish tourists still banned when Scandinavia opens internal borders
Sweden and Denmark are connected via the Öresund Bridge. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Several European countries are opening their borders to some or all EU tourists on Monday, but Swedes are still not allowed to visit its Scandinavian neighbours Denmark, Norway or Finland – with only a few exceptions.

Norwegian health authorities said on Friday that the guidelines drawn up meant that Sweden would remain off limits until coronavirus rates declined. The only region of Sweden from which it allows leisure travel is the island of Gotland, which is one of the Swedish regions that has so far escaped the worst of the epidemic.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has assessed each region in the Nordics on the basis of their incidence rate over the past 14 days, and based on the percentage of positive samples over the past 14 days. It allows travel to and from all other Nordic countries, apart from the whole of mainland Sweden.

It has also applied 'qualitative criteria', judging regions on the extent to which those with mild symptoms are tested, on how good their contract tracing system is, and on the quality of information given out to travellers.

“They are testing more in Sweden now, which is good. We have to hope that the spread of infection decreases with tougher measures. It is an unfortunate situation and many people both on the Swedish and Norwegian side of the border think this is sad,” Norway's infectious disease director Frode Forland told TT.

Denmark is also keeping its borders closed to Swedes for now – with the exception of Swedes working in Denmark, or if they for example are travelling through the country, own a summer home in Denmark or are in a relationship with a Dane. It is open to all travellers from Germany, Norway and Iceland.

But some form of regional agreement with neighbouring southern Sweden, which has so far had a much lower rate of infection than many other parts of both Sweden and Denmark, is being discussed.

 

How do you feel about Scandinavia's decision to ban Swedish tourists?

Finland now allows people from Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to enter the country. Swedes are still not welcome at this stage, but the decision is set to be reviewed at the end of June.

“The situation can change quickly. We managed to get a hold of the situation and I think that will happen in Sweden, too. My assessment is that we are talking about a matter of weeks,” Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet.

None of the Nordic countries, apart from Iceland, has dropped its borders completely with all EU countries. 

It is important to also be aware that Sweden's foreign ministry currently advises against all non-essential travel to anywhere in the world. This is linked to travel restrictions and the fast-changing global situation which could leave travellers stranded rather than the risks posed directly by the coronavirus. 

The recommendation, which is currently in place until July 15th, isn't legally binding, so it's still possible for individuals to travel as long as the destination allows. However, when the foreign ministry advises against travel, this also has an impact on things like travel insurance validity, so people who take a non-essential trip against the advice and find themselves stranded or in need of assistance may end up heavily out of pocket.


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