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Latvia decides against applying quarantine restrictions on Estonia

Estonian and Latvian flags.
Estonian and Latvian flags. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Latvian government decided on Friday not to apply quarantine restrictions to people entering the country from Estonia after the infection rate in Estonia dipped just below 16 per 100,000 as a two week average, according to Latvia's own figures.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) wrote on social media: "The Latvian government will not impose the quarantine requirement on Estonia from tomorrow [Saturday], as the Estonian figure was less than 16, that is 15.98, in the morning.

"This morning's [Friday] consultations ended with the hundredth rounded down! Lithuania, too, was below it. There will be a new review of figures next Friday, but until then, there will be no quarantine requirement when going to Latvia."

The infection rate will be reviewed again next week.

Restrictions were also not applied to Lithuania, which yesterday had a two-week average exceeding 16.

As both Estonia and Lithuania's average exceeded 16 earlier this week there talk of the "Baltic bubble" between all three countries, which enabled free movement without quarantine, coming to an end.

On Friday, Health Minister Ilze Vinkele said in an interview to Latvian Radio that maintaining open borders with Lithuania and Estonia, where the incidence of COVID-19 is increasing significantly, means risks are also increasing in Latvia, LSM English reported.

She also said the differences in infection rates had arisen because Latvia was following expert advise whereas some of the other countries decisions had been political.

Latvia's own foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, tweeted Friday that there had been: "...Good news – [the] number of Covid cases in Lithuania and Estonia are below 16/100000, so no selfisolation is required travelling to Latvia."

Public broadcasters of both Lithuania (LRT) and Latvia (LSM) noted on their English-language pages that the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) puts Estonia and Lithuania's latest COVID-19 rate at above the 16 per 100,000 threshold – beyond which travelers from those countries must self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in many European countries – at 16.4 and 16.1 respectively. 

Latvia's own reported rate is 4.3 per 100,000, one of the lowest in Europe.

LSM reports that the fact that the "Baltic bubble" has not burst in terms of free travel between all three Baltic states is thanks to the health ministry in Latvia using coronavirus figures supplied to them by their counterparts in Estonia and Lithuania, rather than the ECDC.

Latvia's own Center for Disease Prevention and Control (SPKC) has latest figures below the 16 per 100,000 rate, although its earlier figures all match the ECDC's own statistics, LSM says.

These figures put Estonia at 15.95 – according to LSM the only country's value quoted to two decimal places – and Lithuania on 15.7.


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Editor: Helen Wright, Andrew Whyte

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