The government is extending the bar on the reopening of air services from Estonia to countries with a reported high coronavirus risk through to the end of August, Baltic News Service reports. This amends the previous practise of reviewing the situation with COVID-19 rates in other countries every two weeks, and allows airlines to plan their activities more effectively, the government argues.
"There have been new outbreaks of coronavirus in several countries in recent weeks," said Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) via a press release Monday afternoon.
"As a result, we see that a regular review of the restriction every two weeks is too frequent at the moment, and we will extend the restriction by a whole month. This also enables airlines to better plan their activities," Aas went on.
The benchmark rate of COVID-19 infections required before reopening international air routes stands at 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants reported in that country for the preceding fortnight. An additional factor is the regulations in place in the other country.
The economic affairs ministry also reviews the situation with the Health Board (Terviseamet) in making its decisions on air route openings, BNS reports.
As of July 24, direct air links between Estonia and Luxembourg, Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Portugal, Spain and Croatia, all in the EU, as well as links with the Russian Federation, are off the table due to reported coronavirus rates in those countries exceeding the limit.
The change makes the restrictions on the above retroactively valid from May 18 – the day after the Estonian government's emergency situation ended – to August 31.
Taavi Aas also stressed caution was needed, adding that not all EU member states were following the union's own recommendations on the issue, with regard to air links to non-EU nations.
"The EU has given its recommendations concerning the opening of air traffic to third countries. Some member states heed them, some do not. I believe that we should be careful, as new outbreaks of the virus can be seen in many countries. In several countries, such as Ukraine, the situation is gradually improving, yet opening a route there immediately may be a rushed move," Aas said.
Arrivals in Estonia from countries with a reported COVID-19 infection rate of 16 per 100,000 inhabitants must still self-quarantine for 14 days even as flights to Estonia are operating from those states.
The government adds that regulations in destination countries should also be taken into account, when planning international flights.
Editor: Andrew Whyte