The Finnish government has reversed course on restrictions brought in to counter the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which should have stopped ferry passengers traveling there this week. This means Estonian shipping line Tallink can continue operating both ways between Tallinn and Helsinki.
On Monday, the Finnish government introduced new, stricter restrictions, which apply to passenger transport on ships between Finland and Estonia as well as those between Finland and Sweden. Passengers would no longer be permitted into Finland on ferries under the new rules, though outgoing trips to Estonia could still be made.
However, on Thursday evening, Tallink Grupp, operator of Estonian line Tallink, received information from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) that passenger traffic to Finland would continue this week after all, as no agreement had been reached with the Finnish authorities at that point, Tallink's communications manager Katri Link told ERR Friday.
Traficom had sent the original restriction information to all shipping companies operating between Finland and its neighbors on Monday, and a letter sent on the same day asked all shipping companies to halt passenger traffic to Finland starting Wednesday, April 1.
Shipping lines had duly begun their preparations to comply with the order when a new announcement was received on Tuesday, that the restriction would be delayed in coming into effect, with additional information being provided to the shipping companies as soon as possible.
This means that according to the information received, ferry passengers are still able to travel to Finland, as well as away from it, at the time of writing.
Tallink Group's Megastar shuttle is to continue to carry passengers on the Tallinn-Helsinki route in both directions, in addition to its regular consignment of cargo, and Tallink's Baltic Princess and Galaxy vessels will continue to carry passengers on the Turku (Finland)-Stockholm route in both directions, for the time being.
According to ERR's online news in Estonian, this will continue until the Finnish authorities order the implementation of the earlier passenger traffic restrictions.
Tallink says that as far as it is aware, discussions on the final introduction of the restriction will continue next week.
The Megastar makes six scheduled daily trips between Tallinn and Helsinki, and is supported by Finland financially in order to continue freight transport to that country.
The Galaxy and the Baltic Princess are also supported by the Finnish state, with the first of these, as well as the Megastar, to continue in this arrangement for freight transport through to mid-June, Kadri Link said.
Editor: Andrew Whyte