British family now stuck in Lapland after Covid-19 shut down borders

Article and video from SWNS

A British family traveling across Europe in a motorhome will ride out the pandemic in Lapland after Covid-19 shut down borders.

Despite being a three and a half hour drive away from hospitals and doctors, the Irwins believe they are safer in Kilpisjärvi, a tiny village of 117 people, than they would be back in the UK.

Amelia, 36, from Cheltenham, in Gloucestershire, UK, and Brett, 37, originally from Johannesburg in South Africa, were in the Finnish region with their sons Gabriel, nine, and Grey, two, and their cats Lola and Skye, when the Norway-Finland border closed on March 18.

The British government offered expats flights back to the UK but the Irwins did not want to abandon their adventures or their two-bedroom, two-bathroom Sportsmen Fifth Wheel which has been their home for the last year.

Amelia said: "It's safe here in terms of coronavirus.

"The numbers are down and we are in a really remote part of Finland.

"It's probably the safest spot.

"We are on the edge of a national park so we are able to go out and get into the snow and see the wildlife.

"We have views of Lapland with reindeer and see wolverine tracks.

"We are three and a half hours away from the nearest doctor or hospital but I still feel more safe here than in the UK."

Amelia added that the local supermarket is well stocked and quiet.

"The supermarket is massive because it's an area that sees a lot of tourists.

"Obviously there are no tourists right now and there are only 117 people in the village so it's really quiet."

The family left the UK last March to travel across Europe in their Fifth Wheel motorhome after Amelia and Brett both lost their jobs in events at the same time.

"We just had the idea," Amelia said.

"This was an opportunity not to be missed - neither of us had a job, neither of us had a tie."

The couple purchased the £52,000 ($65,000) motorhome with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two kitchens and a living/dining room.

They started in France before traveling through Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Monaco.

The family came to Finland in September to see the Northern Lights but money issues meant they stayed longer than expected.

"Our redundancy package ran out.

"We thought we'd see the winter season out here.

"Brett used to be a chef and he was working in a restaurant in Lapland over the winter.

"But before the winter season ended, coronavirus hit and the restaurant shut down.

"We realized we couldn't leave because the Finland-Norway border was closed."

The family's travel plans were thrown into disarray.

"We were going to go through Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and then Belgium.

"We were aiming to be in Romania for July."

Instead the family is holed up in Lapland and worrying about their finances.

The pair had started an events business but have seen their industry decimated by the spread of the virus.

"We organize conferences and meetings for our clients and that's how we live.

"But we've lost all of our business.

"We have fallen through the cracks of every government policy so we are not going to get any money at all.

"We could end up being in very bad shape.

"We got the RV through finance and we need to pay £500 ($624) a month on that.

"We don't have a house in the UK so going back to the UK wouldn't solve any problems."

The virus has not made the family reconsider their nomadic lifestyle and they plan on hitting the road as soon as borders open.

"We will head down south and go somewhere warm but we have to be careful.

"Italy was a country we wanted to return to but now we don't want to go there.

"We are now thinking of heading to Morocco.

"When we are moving, every week you have a different view out of your window.

"You can explore any part of the world for very cheap.

"We don't want to give that up."