Migrant workers from Ukraine have to be made accountable for violating their self-isolation requirement along with their Estonian employers, according to Estonian Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE).
Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior said that a raid carried out by the Police and Border Guard (PPA) and the Health Board (Terviseamet) on July 30 revealed that the Ukrainian nationals who arrived in Estonia on a special flight on July 21 had breached their conditions for entry into the state on 46 occasions.
"It is the responsibility of both the employee as well as their employer that the conditions set are adhered to. It is extremely regrettable that employers have taken the responsibility they have assumed so lightly. First, they have broken the rules, but second, this is a careless attitude against our entire society. The conduct of these employers and their foreign employees is all the more irresponsible considering that it may entail great losses to entrepreneurs in other fields as well as the entire nation, should we need to start reestablishing restrictions," Helme said.
"The COVID-19 virus is reemerging and we need to do our best to reduce the risk of transmission," he added.
"The PPA has a number of sanctions it can impose in relation to the foreigners who arrived in Estonia for violations of the self-isolation requirement and for enabling working during self-isolation," the minister said.
"An alien's stay in Estonia can be terminated over a public health risk, as a result of which they are obligated to return to their home country, and a fine of up to €32,000 can be meted out to their employer. The criminal procedure can also be launched for causing a spread of an infectious disease or the risk thereof. The state will not tolerate such violations and irresponsible behavior," he added.
The police have begun looking into the incidents, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
The ministry pointed out that the Health Board can also order a penalty payment of up to €9,600 to be paid by Estonian residents and foreign nationals arriving in Estonia for failing to self-isolate when required, and to launch misdemeanor proceedings into the violations. "I expect the Health Board to take decisive steps in this regard," Helme said.
On July 21, 145 Ukrainian nationals arrived in Estonia on a special flight. The Ukrainians were subjected to the obligation to self-isolate for 14 days at their place of residence. The foreign workers' adherence to the requirement is also their employers' responsibility.
Direct flights between Tallinn and Ukraine reopened last Friday, just for one day, and were stopped again when Ukraine's reported COVID-19 rate exceeded the threshold for permitting flight links.
Editor: Roberta Vaino