Thousands of families facing difficult decisions because of closed borders

Family of Elo Meier and Veiko Kook
Family of Elo Meier and Veiko Kook Source: ERR

The emergency situation has seen thousands of Estonian families face difficult decisions of whether a family member working abroad should remain behind closed borders or come back home. ETV news broadcast "AK. Nädal" visited one family of six who had to make such a decision.

Father of four Veiko Kook, who works in forestry in the Czech Republic, was supposed to be home in a few days for the birthdays of his two younger children. Life has now dealt him a different hand, "AK. Nädal" reports.

"The breaking news of borders being closed was followed by four or five days of confusion and then having to be brave. These moments are difficult," said Elo Meier, who is staying at home with the children.

For Veiko, an employer to nine people, this is a challenging situation. A company cannot be put on hold for indefinite duration so he and his wife had to decide whether he should come back to Estonia or stay in the Czech Republic with his employees.

"We decided that as he is able to work, he should work as much as possible. This was a joint decision by our family," Meier said.

On the evening of March 19, the Finnish government decided to stop cross-border commuting for Estonians working in Finland but permanently residing in Estonia to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. This means that thousands of Estonian families had to make a similar decision to that of Elo's and Veiko's.

"We have a mortgage and other bills to pay, and the family needs to eat. Maternity benefits will end after this month," Meier listed the family's expenses.

"One thing that might not be spoken of is that husbands have it really rough as they can't see their wife or children," Meier said. "We call, we speak, he'll speak to the children and then he'll feel better again."


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Editor: Anders Nõmm

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