There was heavy traffic congestion at the Finnish-Norwegian border on Monday as tourists attempting to cross the border at Lake Kilpisjärvi and Nuorgam were met with Covid-testing queues stretching back for kilometres.
Norwegian authorities had eased entry restrictions earlier on Monday, allowing travellers from almost every region in Finland to enter the country without the need to quarantine.
Kainuu is currently the only Finnish area that has not been given the green light for quarantine-free travel to Norway.
People coming from Norway can cross the border to Finland freely, but to enter Norway most travellers need to go through a Covid testing point.
While Covid-passport holders can skip the queue and enter freely, non-vaccinated or people who have only received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine must wait their turn for a Covid test, which was taking up to five or six hours.
Janne Kulju from Kokkola embarked on a two-night holiday trip to Skibotn in northern Norway on Monday. He told Yle that the atmosphere at the border was relaxed despite the long wait in the 30-degree Celsius heat as Lapland saw record high temperatures.
"The mood here is not bad at all. I saw a woman sitting in a camping chair and people making food using travel pots. Some are going for walks in the nearby terrain," Kulju said.
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By 5pm, Kulju had been waiting in the test queue for five and a half hours, with about 100 metres still left to reach the testing point.
"Three hours to move 300 metres"
Markku Aitto-oja from Haapajärvi crossed the Nuorgam border for the second time in two weeks, after a holiday in the Finnish Lapland village of Utsjoki.
"The first time the border crossing was a piece of cake, but now it's not. We started queuing from the church and it took about three hours to move 300 meters closer to the testing point on the Norwegian side," Aitto-oja said.
At the test point, travellers must present a passport and registration form, after which a Covid-19 test is taken. Travellers must then wait to receive the results.
"Norwegian police are going around the queue and I think they are checking for tourists' vaccination certificates. Tourists with a vaccination certificate can get past the queue," Aitto-oja said.
Norwegian police warn travellers to prepare for wait
Despite having increased the capacity for controls and testing, Norwegian police issued a warning (siirryt toiseen palveluun)to travellers coming into the country from Finland to "prepare for the wait. Bring water and food. There are no facilities at the border."
The border is open 24 hours a day, every day, with the police adding that traffic at its heaviest between 8am and 8pm, and they therefore encourage travellers to arrive at the border outside of peak travelling hours.