Under the Estonian state's emergency measures dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, Estonia has temporarily stopped issuing Schengen visas under new border controls which come into effect on Tuesday, March 17, Baltic News Service reports. All those entering Estonia will also have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period during which they must remain at home and not have direct contact with any other individuals.
The quarantine measures mean it is unlawful for those so placed to leave their place of residence or permanent place of stay during that two week period which follows arrival in the country, though exceptions may be granted by permission of a Police and Border Guard (PPA) official or a health worker, and in the event of an emergency threatening life or well-being.
The same applies to those staying in the same premises – in other words these need to remain in quarantine, according to the interior ministry's site LINK.
"I suggest that isolated people communicate with their friends and acquaintances by phone or online and ask them to bring them necessary items. It is important to remember that the person bringing the goods must not have any physical contact with those in isolation. The situation is inconvenient but I ask for people's understanding. It is important to isolate people with symptoms as this way we can reduce the possibility of further infections," the Minister of the Interior, Mart Helme, said, according to the ministry's website.
In cases of serious symptoms upon arrival in Estonia or later, individuals will be hospitalized.
Schengen visa details
Due to the coronavirus outbreak and pursuant to the government's order, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is temporarily suspending accepting applications for Schengen visas and Estonian long-stay visas at Estonian representations and visa centers. This also applies for visa applications handled by Estonia on behalf of other member states, according to BNS.
Visas that have already been issued, even if currently valid, will not grant passengers entry to Estonia during the emergency situation.
A visa application can however be lodged under exceptional circumstances for humanitarian reasons, such as an illness or funeral of next of kin, transport of goods or raw materials, provision of services for resolving health-related or other emergencies, and for those whose parent, child or spouse is a citizen of Estonia or a has a residence permit or permanent right of residence.
From Tuesday, March 17, only citizens of Estonia and holders of an Estonian residency permit or right of residence can enter the country, as well as foreign citizens who are not exhibiting coronavirus symptoms and whose parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, or spouse are a citizen of Estonia or a residence permit or ID card holder.
Foreigner nationals working in Estonia with a visa, or visa-free (i.e. require no visa) will not be allowed to return to Estonia after 17 March. In case they are already in Estonia, they can remain here or leave the country, if they wish so, the interior ministry says on its website.
Exceptions to Estonia entry restrictions
The above restrictions do not apply to diplomats and foreign nationals arriving in Estonia in the framework of international military cooperation.
Foreign nationals are currently permitted to transit through Estonia on their way to their home country if they do not exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.
Travel outside Estonia
While exit from Estonia is ongoing, the interior ministry points out that this might complicate later return as well as running the risk of being placed in quarantine in the country of arrival.
"We ask people to remain in Estonia and not to travel. When going to another country, people may remain in a quarantine area and returning home may be highly difficult or even impossible," the interior minister said on the ministry's website.
The measures are valid until the order is changed and the need for them will be reviewed every two weeks the latest.
For more information on the current travel rules, see this piece.
Editor: Andrew Whyte