From Tuesday, arrivals from COVID-19 high-risk countries in Estonia at both Tallinn Aiport and Tallinn ferry port can take an optional coronavirus test. Returning negative on a test, which is free to Estonian residents, means the 14-day quarantine period is eased, and fully lifted if a second test returns negative. This exemption only applies to adults.
Non-residents must make a card-payment in order to be tested.
The tests take place both at Tallinn Airport and the two main passenger ferry terminals, Terminal A and Terminal D, in the foot passenger zone.
A form must be filled out, which takes about five minutes, it is reported, with those taking the test checked in order of signing up; test points remain open through to the arrival of the last flight or ferry of the day.
Testing negative for COVID-19 can remove or shorten self-quarantine requirements for those arriving from at-risk countries, defined by the foreign ministry as countries with a reported coroanvirus risk of over 16 cases per 100,000 residents in the preceding 14 days, which at present is the majority of European countries.
Negative test results will be communicated to the subject by text message; positive results are reported via a call.
Those tested must self-quarantine until they receive their negative test result, which may be a matter of hours, it is reported.
A negative result allows the individual to leave home for essential work purposes – still maintaining social distancing from others - as well as essential purposes such as to buy food or in an emergency which apply to full quarantine.
Children returning from at-risk countries must still quarantine
While adults can get an exemption from quarantine restrictions, this does not apply to children, who must still quarantine at home for 14 days after returning from a coronavirus high-risk state, even if they test negative.
The new school year starts on Tuesday, meaning any school children who arrived in Estonia within the past two weeks, or continue to arrive, will not be able to attend school in person, the Health Board says.
To be completely exempt from quarantine requirements within the 14 day period, individuals must take a second COVID-19 test within a week of the first, testing negative a second time also.
Results can also be viewed on the digilugu.ee health information system, which requires log-in with an Estonian ID card.
Testing is conducted by two private sector firms, Qvalitas, in the case of the airport, and Confido at the ferry port.
Testing facilities for arrivals by land to be set up
Testing is not mandatory, but not taking a test means individuals arriving from high-risk countries must isolate at their place of stay for 14 days.
Call centers are to be set up by two other firms, SYNLAB and Medicum, to enable testing for passengers arriving by land, who might otherwise face queues
Public testing locations are also available in Tallinn, Tartu, Pärnu, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Viljandi, Paide, Rakvere, Kuressaare (Saaremaa) and Kärdla (Hiiumaa), whos resutls are analyzed by SYNLAB in conjunction with the Health Board (Terviseamet).
The Health Board says that the system for arrivals by land is still based on trust - for instance if a person landed at Riga Airport from an at-risk country and went on by car to cross the Estonian border, they should self-quarantine - and testing is not mandatory, though the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) can still conduct spot checks in the border area.
Editor: Andrew Whyte