Government lifts restrictions for direct flights to six countries ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Tallinn Airport.
Tallinn Airport. Source: Tallinn Airport

Direct flights will be kept in place to and from six European countries regardless of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rate the government agreed on Friday.

It will be possible to fly to Frankfurt, Helsinki, Copenhagen, London, Riga, and Warsaw even if the countries have an infection rate higher than 25 new cases per 100,000 people as a 14-day average.

Currently, if the infection rate of a country surpasses 25 direct flights are canceled.

In recent weeks, as rates of coronavirus have increased across Europe, more and more direct flights have been canceled which has led to concern among government officials that Estonia will be cut off. This week only nine direct flights are possible from Tallinn.

However, the government agreed to keep the limit at 25 per 100,000 for now rather than raise the limit as some have suggested to stop flights from being canceled. A 14-day quarantine period on arrival is still recommended for anyone coming from a high risk country.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas (Center) said the number of European countries with high infection rates have increased to a level where, considering the current restrictions on air-travel, most of the air traffic at Tallinn Airport should be closed.

Based on that, Aas proposed to the Government the destinations with which Estonia should maintain air corridors.

"We selected the cities based on the number of travellers and the relevance of the destinations as nodes that guarantee Estonia's connection with the rest of the world. An important argument was also the transport of post and goods with scheduled flights and, because of that, it is essential to keep the six selected airlines open," he said.

The minister also said travelers are still allowed to fly to countries where the infection rate per 100,000 people remains below 25 people.

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said the situation with COVID-19 has presented Estonia with complicated options where future developments do not only depend on national decisions, but also on the responsibilities and behaviour of people.

"The Government established the exceptions based on the assumption that the risk of contracting the virus can be reduced with the trust measures in force for travelling, for example, the requirement to remain in self-isolation for 14 days after returning from high-risk countries," he said.

"Nevertheless, I strongly advise everyone to travel only if it is absolutely necessary and urge to critically consider the destinations and purposes of your travels."

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications will re-evaluate the epidemiologic situations in the countries of destination each Friday and open or close down the air routes depending of the spread of the disease.

The updated list of countries is available at the website on the ministry's website.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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