ERR was on the spot at the Ikla border crossing, on the Estonian-Latvian border, at midnight, to see how people crossed the temporary border control before and after free movement was restored between the three Baltic countries.
At midnight, the nearly two-month-long joint work of police officers, auxiliary police officers, the Tax and Customs Board (MTA), and the Defense League (Kaitseliit) ended at the Ikla border checkpoint. With the last shift, it was an honor to draw a line under the period, and everyone no doubt thought that hopefully, such a time would not return soon. Now, the border between the Baltic states is open.
"Movement between Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania is free from 00:00. However, if an Estonian comes from outside of these countries, from Germany for example, he or she needs to take into account that they have to stay in quarantine for two weeks. This rule remains in place, but we are not continuing the work at the border anymore," Head of the Police and Border Guard Board's Western Prefecture Kaido Kõplas told ERR.
Kõplas added that all staff at the border had done a great job and were worthy of his gratitude. Those who had been checked crossing the border reacted in various ways, however, he said..
"I´m very glad that people were mostly friendly and showed gratitude to us. Especially foreigners, who have been able to cross the border. Of course, there have been people who have hit us with their resentment. It´s especially sad when they have been Estonians, who haven´t been satisfied with the measures. When we explain a little what we´re doing and what is the aim, then people have generally understood, however, and we have parted ways kindly."
The last driver to arrive at the border shortly before midnight received a small souvenir for their efforts. Then the working day, and period, was over at the border. Everyone who performed the tasks received a certificate of honor, as well as a pass to the "Ikla kantiin" buffet, where Kõplas invited his staff to eat cake and grab a cup of midnight coffee.
Editor: Roberta Vaino