In early March 2020, tour guide Yuval Ben-Ami was guiding a group of tourists in Finnish Lapland when the news broke that a coronavirus patient was being treated in nearby Rovaniemi, the city better known as the official home of Santa Claus.
It was after Italy had begun its lockdown in the northern province of Lombardy, but a few days before quarantine went countrywide in France, Spain and the Nordic states. In those early days of the outbreak, with COVID-19 largely confined to China, the group was not unduly concerned.
“Some cracked jokes of what daredevils we were, travelling in these times,” Ben-Ami said.
It would be the last tour that Ben-Ami would give before borders across the world slammed shut.