Package holiday giant TUI is contacting customers heading on family trips to Lapland this year after confusion reigned over Covid-19 testing rules that could have seen some families miss out on a visit to the region’s most famous face.
Current guidance states that children under 16 do not need to go into quarantine on arrival in Father Christmas’s Nordic bolthole, but anyone aged 16 and over must be double-jabbed or face self-isolation for up to five days.
This means 16 and 17-year-olds, who have typically only received one jab in the UK as part of the Government’s vaccine rollout, would have risked needing to stay behind at their hotel under quarantine measures.
UK Government guidance states that those 16 and over who have not been double-jabbed must self-isolate and take a PCR test between day three and five of their trip before being allowed out.
Finnish authorities say the same, although they do not mention the need to self-isolate.
But the PA news agency understands TUI has sought clarification from authorities, who now say 16 and 17-year-olds no longer need to take a PCR test and face self-isolation, considering few would have received two jabs.
The change means those families with teenagers will still be able to visit Father Christmas following months of confusion when customers were initially told they would miss out.
Last month, TUI wrote to customers who had booked the once-in-a-lifetime trips to warn them: “Unvaccinated adults and young people aged 16 and over are unable to travel to Lapland due to the requirement to quarantine and take additional tests on arrival.”
The company also offered refunds to anyone effected.
But following inquiries by the PA news agency, the travel firm said teenagers will no longer miss out.
A spokeswoman said: “As the Finnish authorities have confirmed to us that there is no requirement for travellers to take a PCR test or self-isolate in Lapland on trips that are less than five days, we’re contacting all customers with 16 and 17 year-olds travelling to provide this reassurance.”
She added they had “provided all customers with the most up-to-date information in the run-up to their Lapland holiday.
“All customers were offered the opportunity to amend or cancel their holiday with a full refund due to the uncertainty.”
Families that do make the trip will face a series of restrictions when visiting Father Christmas.
According to TUI: “Your Santa meeting will still take place inside.
“To protect both your party and Santa, children won’t be allowed close contact, but we don’t expect Santa to be wearing a mask or to sit behind a screen.”