Number of people crossing border rises after Russia relaxes covid rules

Narva-1 Border crossing point
Narva-1 Border crossing point Source: Rene Kundla/ERR

There has been an increase in people crossing the Russian-Estonian border after Russia relaxed its coronavirus restrictions earlier this month. The Health Board (Terviseamet) does not believe this is a problem but is concerned Russians will not follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine rule.

Last week, ETV's "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported that approximately 700 people a day crossed the Estonian-Russian border. But after Russia lifted the two-week quarantine requirement for foreign arrivals earlier this week, this has increased to 800 people a day. 

The Health Board does not see a problem in the current situation as the number of people infected with COVID-19 who travel between Russia and Estonia is small. 

Mari-Anne Härma, the acting general director of the Health Board, said: "Estonian people have to remind themselves that we still have the virus here. We need to understand the infection rate in Russia is very high and those who come across the border might be infected with the coronavirus." 

While almost 13,500 people crossed the Estonian-Russian border in April - during the emergency situation - the number of border crossers rose to almost 18,000 in June. Although it is difficult to predict the future number of crossings, it is likely that the number will increase. 

Üllar Kustala, head of the Narva border checkpoint, said: "We are not sure how exactly the spread of the virus will continue. If the border restrictions are eased a bit more, then the number of passengers in August may be twice as high as today." 

If the number of people crossing the border increases, the Health Board will draw attention to this situation. 

According to Härma, border controls should help to identify patients. 

Härma explained: "In terms of increasing infection rates, we could provide the border crossing points with more medical staff to help with testing. We can certainly give out more information to passengers at crossing points. Thermo cameras are one of the main ideas we have come up with which can be placed at the borders." 

The Health Board hopes that people arriving from Russia will follow the two-week quarantine rule. 

Härma added: "We do not live in a society where everything should be controlled. It is on people's own sense of responsibility to trust and follow the rule. I and my team really hope that people realize why they need to stay at home. It is not about the person - it is to stop the spread of the virus." 


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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein

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