Government recommends avoiding international travel

Arrivals from Finland at the Port of Tallinn.
Arrivals from Finland at the Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center), Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) and Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) have urged the public to avoid international travel, in the wake of increasing growth of the COVID-19 virus.

Urmas Reinsalu said: "We are facing the fact that the virus is at a growth stage worldwide, and in many European countries. It is important to repeat the warning on any kind of travel, which is still valid in Estonia."

"The virus is at its growth stage internationally; based on the amount of new cases, there is a higher probability of getting infected [than before]."

Reinsalu noted that the foreign affairs ministry has strongly recommended people avoid travel in any case to countries with a reported COVID-19 infection rate 16 per 100,000 people for the preceding 14 days.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications similarly says that it will allow direct flights between Estonia and countries where the infection rate has been reported at than 25 per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. The ministry assesses the epidemiological situation daily, and opens and closes flight options accordingly.

Reinsalu said: "When purchasing flight tickets, the risk runs both ways. One aspect is that a direct flight could be cancelled by Estonia, and the other is the health risk, where the probability of being infected is higher, and the destination could also set further restrictions."

The minister referenced an outbreak in Spain, saying travelers returning from that country must self-isolate for 14 days.

As of Thursday, arrivals from Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden must undergo 14 days' quarantine upon arrival in Estonia. Reinsalu said this list could grow.

Economic affairs minister Taavi Aas called everyone to vacation in Estonia this year. "Numbers show that risk grows when travelling abroad. The risk of falling into an uncomfortable situation or to a situation where countries set new restrictions, or you fall ill, is growing."

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas noted that the virus has not gone anywhere, and an increase its activity can be spotted when looking at the data from the last month-and-a-half.

Ratas also hit out at members of the public who have not complied with the self-quarantine requirement. "Despite the obligation to quarantine for 14 days, people have been visiting various entertainment venues - locations with a lot of people. We received information today that an infected individual could have been in contact with more than 40 people in Tartu. This shows a complete lack of responsibility."

There were nine new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Estonia in 24 hours, with two people having visited public spaces after displaying symptoms of the virus.

The Health Board (Terviseamet) announced on Thursday that the number of new cases could jump in the coming days, as close to 50 people have been determined as coming into close contact with known infected individuals.

Ratas added: "If anyone forgets that it is not just a responsibility to yourself, but to your family, those close to you and often those people can be much older, they might be in the risk group."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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