Estonia bans flights to seven coronavirus 'high-risk' European nations

Minister of Economic Affairs and Communication Taavi Aas (Center). Source: ERR

The Estonian government has banned direct flights to several high-risk coronavirus countries in Europe.

The blacklisted nations are:

  • Belarus.
  • Belgium.
  • The Russian Federation.
  • Sweden.
  • Turkey.
  • The U.K.

Flights connections with Denmark were initially blocked, but the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications announced on Monday that they were to be restored.

The move was made by government order, signed on Sunday ahead of the emergency situation (eriolukord) which ended at midnight.

Dozens of government orders, which do not require Riigikogu approval, have been signed into force through the emergency situation, which began on March 12.

White-listed countries which can potentially see restriction-free flights are:

  • Austria.
  • Germany.
  • Norway.
  • Poland.
  • Denmark (as of Monday).

Additionally, flights to Lithuania and Latvia can take place, as the three Baltic States have signed an agreement on a free movement zone, dubbed the "Baltic bubble".

Connections are also dependent on restrictions in the destination countries (for instance Norway's equivalent to the emergency situation is reportedly set to last until late August-ed.), which should be taken into account when planning travel.

The list of barred countries runs to June 7, when it will be reviewed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and the Health Board (Terviseamet). Economics affairs minister Taavi Aas (Center) gave the actual signature for the banned list on Sunday, BNS reports.

One exception is the Minsk-Tallinn service, whose ban only comes into force on May 24, since Estonian citizens are expected to be returning home via Minsk, the Belarusian capital, to May 23.

"In order to stop the spread of the virus, we can first open air connections with countries where the spread of the virus is sufficiently low based on statistics for the past 14 days," Taavi Aas said, via ministry spokespeople.

"For the sake of clarity, I would like to emphasize that even though we are banning flights also to Denmark at the moment, according to forecasts ,the epidemiological situation there may have improved enough already in the next few days to enable flights to that country to be resumed," Aas added.

The criteria for opening up flights is an infection rate of 25 per 100,000 residents or fewer, over the preceding 14 days, BNS reports.

The economics affairs ministry reserves the right to review the  epidemiological situation in the countries of destination on a daily basis, in order to decide whether a flight connection to a given country should be in place or not.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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