Ferry lines reopen between Tallinn and Finland for employment travel

Tallink's MS Star.
Tallink's MS Star. Source: Tallink Grupp

Ferry links between Tallinn and the Finnish capital, Helsinki, are partly reopening on Thursday, for work-related journeys. Tourist ferry trips are still off the table, however.

All three major shipping lines, Tallink, Viking Line and Eckerö, are restarting their routes, which, save for cargo supplies, have been largely dormant since March.

The move follows an announcement by the Finnish government that it would allow Schengen Zone citizens who have an employment contract entry into the country, allowing the tens of thousands of Estonian citizens who work in Finland and have a residence there, to return, or conversely to return home to visit friends and family, without being barred reentry into Finland.

Such trips are also permitted for "unavoidable reasons," it is reported; border checks remain in place on both states' borders to ensure entrants meet these criteria.

Tallink will be operating its Megastar and Star vessels, Viking line will be running the Gabriella, and Eckerö the Finlandia, the Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam) says.

Ingrid Berezin, Port of Tallinn business manager, says the city's terminals are prepared for the safe, gradual restoration of passenger traffic, and in recent weeks have been working closely with the Port of Helsinki, shipping companies and various authorities.

"We have added a number of signage and notices to disperse passengers throughout terminals and passenger corridors, installed disinfectants in public places and ordered the more frequent disinfection of surfaces and cleaning of areas. Our people and partners are instructing and monitoring the smooth and safe boarding explained Berezin."

Finnish citizens or residents who need to come to Estonia for work or study can likewise travel in the opposite direction without having to quarantine, following a government decision Wednesday.

Finnish trade unions had expressed reservations on the opening up of the maritime border to Estonian workers, citing cramped living conditions for the many personnel employed in the construction sector as a potential coronavirus risk.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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