Reinsalu: Further relaxation of Finnish travel restrictions unlikely
Finland is unlikely to further relax travel restrictions any time soon as officials believe the course of the coronavirus is slower than in Estonia and the peak may not have been reached, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said on ETV's "Terevisioon" morning program on Thursday.
"The reopening of travel for tourism [from Finland] is a long-term issue," Reinsalu said in response to presenter Liisu Lassi's question if it will be possible for Finns to visit Estonia before the end of the summer.
"Finland predicts that its course of the virus is slower than Estonia's. They're not sure if they have reached the peak," Reinsalu explained referring a conversation he had with Finland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto on Wednesday, May 6.
"Even a number of Finnish citizens are still waiting to return to their homeland," Reinsalu added.
The Finnish government's position on the rest of the migration has not changed. "My conversation with the Finnish Foreign Minister on Wednesday has given the impression that this is not a question of the coming weeks," Reinsalu said.
Reinsalu told Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat that the Estonian government will discuss a symmetrical response to the easing of labor migration in Finland on Thursday. So far, Estonia has not restricted the entry of Finns who have real estate in the country.
"The restrictions are not based on friendship, but still on public health considerations," he said.
Russia and Sweden
Reinsalu said the rate of coronavirus is still increasing in Russia so there is no reason to change the restrictions. Russia has closed its borders.
Estonian citizens do not have a specific ban on traveling to or from Sweden but the 14-day quarantine period is in force.
On May 8, Reinsalu will discuss the situation with Sweden's foreign minister.
Finnish government allows labor migration with certain restrictions
The Finnish government decided on Monday, May 4, that starting from May 14, Estonians working in Finland, can start to travel between the two countries again.
Minister of the Interior of Finland, Maria Ohisalu, said people traveling to Finland need to follow the 14-day self-isolation requirement, meaning they can move between their workplace and home but not move around without a valid reason.
The restrictions on crossing the Finnish border have caused a lot of confusion among Finnish people. According to the Finnish government, border controls will continue for about a month.
Free movement has been established between Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from May 15. President of Latvia Egils Levits said Finland and Poland could also join this area at a later date.
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Editor: Roberta Vaino, Helen Wright