Russia to lift COVID-19 restrictions on land borders by mid-July
A statement issued by the Government says the intentions are to open land borders following the improved situation with the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Land borders were closed on March 16, 2020, in an attempt to hinder the spread of the virus. A gradually opening started this spring.
Travel restrictions on borders to Asia (Mongolia and Kazakhstan), and to Russian-occupied Abkhazia and South-Ossetia, were lifted in late March.
On June 14, Russia lifted entry restrictions on foreigners arriving at airports and seaports. Domestic restrictions, like the mask regime and ban on catering at night, were lifted on July 1. Over the last four months, the number of new infections has been slowly decreasing.
Travelers will, however, still need to provide the result of a PCR test for coronavirus upon arrival at the border checkpoint. This applies to all foreign citizens with exceptions made for Belarus nationals.
Unlike most other European countries, Russia has restrictions for its own citizens on leaving the country.
From July 15, no COVID-19 rules will any longer hinder people from Russia to visit neighboring countries like Norway, Finland and Estonia.
In June, the number of people crossing the Russian-Norwegian border in the north increased by 270% compared with the same month in 2021. Still, the number was only 3,967, which is about one-fifth compared with the traffic before the pandemic.
It still remains to see how the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions will impact cross-border travel in times of war and international sanctions. An obvious challenge is the lack of payment options for individuals with debit or credit cards.
Russia’s Mir card system doesn’t work in Europe and Visa and Mastercard do not work in Russia. Travel insurance is another challenge harder to organize as European and Russian banking systems are facing strict limitations.