Travel advice for the Nordic region in the age of the coronavirus

Although most of us have already began to talk about a time after the coronavirus, the fact is that COVID-19 may be here to stay - at least until a vaccination has been developed. What this means is that we have to learn to live with its existence and travel in more flexible, cautious and smarter ways.

For the most part, the Nordic region (especially Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) has handled the coronavirus pandemic in praiseworthy ways and will be one of the forerunners of safer travel. This area is not only sparsely populated by most standards, but also has many other benefits, such as:

• Option to travel to more remote destinations (avoiding crowds)
• Clean air and water
• Spectacular nature and lots of space
• Wide range of outdoor activities
• Safe and small accommodation options
• Easy to travel by road, rail, sea if wanting to avoid unnecessary flying
• Sustainable destinations
• Hygiene and other safety measures

Below are some resources to aid you in planning and preparing for travel to the Nordic region in these unusual times.

What do I need to take into consideration when planning a trip to the Nordics?

Before you travel, you should check the details of your travel insurance with a fine-tooth comb to ensure that you are covered in the case of Covid-19 related delays or cancellations. You may need to consider a specialist policy.

You should also check the travel advice and restrictions in place in your country of origin.

Other things to consider include:

• Making sure you can access funds to cover emergencies and unexpected changes and delays. Do not rely on a single form of payment (e.g. just one credit card).
• Being prepared to follow the advice from local authorities while abroad, e.g. being ready and willing to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements.
• Making sure you have enough medication with you in case your trip becomes longer than initially planned.
• Being prepared for financial and logistical disruptions to your travel.
• Arranging extra support for family members or pets who may need care if you are overseas longer than planned.
• Remembering that if you are older or have pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease), you may be more likely to become severely ill if you catch the virus.
• Checking the latest public health advice in the destination (country-specific links are found further down this page).
• For Australian travellers: Australia has a reciprocal health care agreement with Finland, Norway and Sweden, and therefore you are entitled to publicly funded medically necessary care in those countries.
• Being prepared to fill out pre-registration forms when entering a country, detailing contact details, travel dates, all hotels and other accommodation during your travels, and information on where you have travelled recently, whether you have any potential symptoms, and whether you have been in contact with an infected individual.

What measures are airports and airlines taking to help protect passengers and staff?

Airlines are working hard to ensure your safety when travelling with them. Additional measures and requirements in place include:
• Additional flight screening at the airport to make sure you are fit to fly
• Contactless check-in options and self-serve bag drop
• Physical distancing reminders and markers
• Hand sanitation stations and kits (e.g. sanitation wipes) at airports and inside the planes
• Enhanced disinfection of surfaces, both at airports and inside planes
• Adjustments to food and drink service to minimise touchpoints for staff and passengers
• Both passengers and staff are to wear facemasks or coverings
• Where possible, the middle seats will be left empty (however, this is subject to passenger numbers and may not always be possible). If you have a seat in the middle, you may be asked to move to a window or aisle seat instead.

Please see the article AIRLINES: Your Essential Post COVID-19 Health & Safety Guide for more information on each airline.

Please note that according to the World Health Organization (WHO) the risk of getting infected on board an aircraft, is lower than on the ground due to the carefully controlled air quality in aircrafts. Total air change takes place 20-30 times per hour and any recirculated air is passed through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters also commonly used in hospital operating theatres and intensive care units. Iceland Black Mountain

Is it safe to travel to Scandinavia and the wider Nordic region right now?

At the time of writing (mid-June), Iceland is due to open its borders for all international travellers from July 1st, 2020. The remaining Nordic countries have begun to open borders between carefully selected nations, and you can feel confident that once you are allowed to go (according to your country of origin and the destination), it is safe enough to do so – provided that you continue to adhere to precautionary guidelines, such as frequent hand-washing and social distancing. Travellers also need to respect any local regulations in place.

What measures are in place to keep travellers safe while in destination?

These are some of the commonly adopted measures that are in place in the Nordics:

• Sick people are required to stay at home
• Recommended distance between people is 1-2 meters
• Good hand hygienic is a must
• Queues (at reception, toilets, activities) are organised so that each person is at least 1m apart from those behind and in front of them
• Preferred payment method is contact free, i.e. credit cards
• No buffet meals allowed (for the time being)
• Group sizes are kept small
• All decorative items that can’t be washed will be removed from hotel rooms
• Employers will be cleaning between guests and during the day
• Rental equipment will be cleaned between guests
• Recommendations on busses: Handle your own luggage, use the back door. The first two seats are to be kept vacant to ensure the safety of the driver. Only 50% occupancy is preferred in order to keep appropriate distance between passengers

Norway Handstand

What travel related restrictions are in place in Scandinavia and the wider Nordic region?

Iceland's borders opened to travellers from other EU and Schengen states on June 15th, 2020 and are due to open for the rest of the world on July 1st. All travellers to Iceland must complete a registration form before arrival and either have a COVID-19 test or quarantine for 14 days once in the country. The test will be free of charge until 30 June 2020, after which the cost is 15,000 ISK per test (approximately £90 / ‎€100 / AU$160 / US$115). Children born in 2005 or later are exempt from both testing and quarantine.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Iceland.

For now, Finland has only opened its borders to travellers from Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, however you can transit through Helsinki Airport. Finland is opening further borders on July 13th (if Covid-19 situation does not change for the countries they are allowing).

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Finland.

For the time being, travellers from Denmark, Finland and Iceland may enter Norway, and you can transit through Gardermoen (Oslo) Airport (although expect travel delays). Norway is opening further on July 15th (for travellers from EEA/Schengen countries with acceptable levels of infection). An updated map for Norway will come on July 10th and then it will be updated every 14 days.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Norway.

Foreign travellers can enter Sweden, but you must be arriving from and a resident of the United Kingdom, Switzerland, or one of the EEA countries. You can also transit through Stockholm Airport, but you cannot leave the transit area.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Sweden from Krisinformation
and Visit Sweden.

Denmark’s borders will open to most European countries from 27 June 2020, based on a set of health measures and analysis. However, borders to Sweden, the UK, Ireland, Portugal and Romania remain closed. To enter the Denmark, tourists from the approved country must show documentation of a valid booking for a minimum of 6 days on entry. If a tourist wishing to enter shows clear signs of sickness, for example a cough, fever, or similar, they will not be allowed to cross the border.” There is no quarantine for coming from these nations..

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Denmark.

Travellers from Denmark, Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland and Norway are permitted to travel to Greenland, however they must present a must show a maximum 5-day old negative Corona test, go into quarantine for 5 days and re-test again. Tourists also need to fill in a personal locator form for the duration of their stay.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Greenland regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Greenland.

Faroe Islands
Travellers from Denmark, Greenland, Norway, Germany and Iceland are able to enter the Faroe Islands, but must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, no more than 5 days old.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to the Faroe Islands and Visit Faroe Islands travel website.

Tourists from most countries in the European Union, the Schengen Zone, and the United Kingdom can enter Estonia, provided they have no symptoms. However, you may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Estonia.

Travellers from any EU member state as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or the United Kingdom are allowed to enter Latvia. Depending on the country you have arrived from, you may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Latvia.

Currently, citizens and residents from the countries of the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland and of the United Kingdom are allowed to travel to Lithuania, however face masks should still be worn in crowded places, including public transport.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Lithuania.

Some of Russia's lockdown restrictions have begun easing, with most stores and services reopening. Other restrictions remain in place, such as the need to wear gloves and masks in public areas. Russia's borders remain closed.

See the latest regarding COVID-19 and travelling to Russia from Russia Tourism and Visit Russia UK twitter page (more up to date). Iceland Northern Lights

If I book a trip with 50 Degrees North, what would happen if my travel plans needed to change?

Rebooking can be done up to 18 months ahead if the postponement request has been sent at least 70 days before departure date and the change is due to forced amendments (e.g. closed borders). In this case, the full deposit will be transferred to the new booking, provided that we have not incurred any unrecoverable costs with some of the suppliers.

If the booking is cancelled by you for other reasons, deposit is non-refundable and our normal booking conditions will apply.

See our full booking conditions on this booking conditions page.

Some exceptions / special terms and conditions are also available in some cases. Please contact our team to find out more.

What happens if I test positive for Coronavirus after arrival?

If a passenger tests positive, they may be offered to undergo further tests to determine whether they have an active infection. In this case, the passenger must self-isolate and provide detailed information on who they have come in close contact with, up to two days before the onset of their symptoms.

Needless to say, you will not be able to travel home until you are fully recovered. However, medical care in the Nordics is first class and you would be in good hands should you require treatment.

What should I expect when returning to my home country?

In most cases, you are expected to provide contact details and quarantine / self-isolate for 14 days.

You should check the latest public health advice in your home country both before travelling and upon your return (links at the start of the page).

This information has been provided in good faith and as you can understand, things are changing regularly so please speak to us about further details at the time of booking.