The movement restrictions implemented since midnight of March 17 are making crossing the border from the eastern Estonian city of Narva to Russia almost meaningless because what follows the crossing of the border is a two-week-long quarantine. This will make life difficult for many residents of Narva.
On average, the Narva border crossing point is traversed by about 4,000 pedestrians a day, many of whom are residents of north-eastern Estonian cities who have business or errands in Russia. People go to visit their relatives, the pharmacy, the post office, make money by shipping smaller quantities of goods, or just go shopping. Currently, shopping in Ivangorod (Estonian: Jaanilinn) is particularly cheap due to the low exchange rate of the ruble.
The Police and Border Guard Board´s (PPA) requests to reduce the crossing of the border due to the spread of the virus weren´t taken seriously until Tuesday, March 17, ERR's online Estonian news reports.
"There has been no significant reduction in crossing the border during recent days. This type of behavior is extremely risky. If people are close to each other in queues, the transmission of the virus can be effortless. We are hoping that the special measures established by the leader of the emergency situation will reduce crossing of the border significantly," Head of the East Prefecture Border Guard Bureau Indrek Püvi told ERR.
"Generally, all entrants crossing the border are under a 14-day ban when they can't leave their homes. All these measures aim to reduce the number of people crossing the border and, therefore, the spread of the virus," Püvi explained.
Information on the new restrictions reached the people crossing borders yesterday afternoon. Natalja, a resident of Narva, speaking at the border crossing, has to make a very difficult choice: "I have to decide today and right now where I am staying, either here or across the border. There I have my family, here I have my apartment and important activities. There are my husband, daughter and grandchildren, here I have to go to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa). I don't know what to do. I think there are a lot of people like me who live in two cities at the same time."
Retired Alexander from Narva used to cross the border three times a week. Samples of merchandise delivered to Ivangorod brought him a little addition to his small pension. "How can I manage with my €90 pension? I understand the fight against the virus and microbes is important, but what happens next, we will see," he said.
According to Indrek Püvi, police officers check if the quarantine requirements have been met and they can use administrative coercion if necessary.
Editor: Roberta Vaino