Estonia to close borders to foreign nationals from March 17

The Narva-2 border crossing on the Estonian-Russian border
The Narva-2 border crossing on the Estonian-Russian border Source: (Sergei Stepanov)

Border controls will be reintroduced from Tuesday, March 17 and foreign travelers will not be allowed to enter Estonia in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the government decided on Saturday. Anyone entering the country from March 17 must spend two weeks self-quarantining.

The government has decided to restrict the crossing of the Schengen internal and external border temporarily and reintroduce border controls.

Right of entry will be restricted to only citizens of Estonia, holders of an Estonian residency permit or right of residence, including so-called grey passport holders, as well as foreign citizens whose family member live in Estonia.

The temporary restriction of border crossings will be in force until decided otherwise and the necessity of the measures will be reviewed every two weeks.

Foreigners are allowed to transit Estonia on the way to their home country if they do not show symptoms of COVID-19.

The cabinet meeting also supported the requirement of a two-week quarantine for everyone entering the country.

No exit ban has been imposed.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said: "To stop the spread of coronavirus and protect public health the government has decided to temporarily reintroduce border controls on the whole border.

"All residents of Estonia and their next of kin can return to Estonia. We will ensure necessary transport for goods and raw materials, as long as the transporters show no symptoms of illness."

Ratas stressed: "There is a sufficient food supply in Estonia, both in commercial warehouses and in state reserves. There is no need to worry about shortage of food and daily supplies. It's reasonable to buy only as much as needed."

International cargo and food and medical supplies transport can enter the country, as well as persons providing vital services, like fuel providers.

The government supported the order of Prime Minister Jüri Ratas as the person in charge of the emergency situation that specifies the rules of border crossing.

The order to reintroduce border control on the whole border will be adopted by the government at an e-session on Sunday.

The government recommends avoiding travel to other countries that might also implement quarantine measures.

Estonian residents who are having trouble returning home from abroad are advised to contact the consular assistance emergency helpline +372 53 01 9999 (24 h).

An emergency situation was declared on Thursday, March 12 to contain the spread of coronavirus. As of Saturday, March 14 a total of 115 cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed in Estonia.

Latvia will close its international borders to all organized passenger traffic on land, sea and air on Tuesday, March 17. It will still be possible to travel within the European Union on a private basis (e.g. in a private car), as the right to free movement is enshrined in EU law, Latvia's national broadcaster LSM reported (link in English).

Other countries in the region which have implemented similar measures include Denmark, Norway, Poland and Lithuania.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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