Egypt flights bringing Estonian citizens home as borders close

Commercial flights are bringing back home Estonian citizens currently in Egypt, whose numbers may stretch to the thousands, the foreign minister says. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonian citizens in Egypt are to be brought back by plane, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said Tuesday morning, in the wake of border closures taking place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two flights have already taken place, with three more to fly on Tuesday, Reinsalu said.

Egypt is due to close its border on Thursday, March 19.

The foreign minister also said that two planes have already gone to Egypt to bring Estonians there, and three flights are expected to take place on Tuesday as Egypt closes its airspace on March 19.

The planes are operated by the private sector, he said.

"This is an operation by tour operators. According to information at my disposal, two planes touched down in Egypt yesterday. Three more planes should land today," he said, adding that any Estonian citizen who had not already done so to contact the foreign ministry by email.

"It is undoubtedly our number one task now to get all our people out of Egypt by the time Egyptian airspace closes at noon on March 19," the minister said.

When asked how many Estonian people could be abroad, Reinsalu replied that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had reported a few hundred, but in actuality the number is certainly in the thousands.

Estonia initiated its own border controls starting in the small hours of Tuesday, meaning only Estonian citizens, residents of Estonia, or family members of either, may enter the country. In addition, anyone entering Estonia must now self-quarantine at home for 14 days. There are some exceptions to these rules for diplomatic, military, commercial and vital service personnel.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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