Reinsalu: Baltic Bubble 2.0 requires reaching a coronavirus plateau
Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said the restoration of the "Baltic bubble" between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania requires the coordination of national health experts and reaching an epidemiological plateau.
Reinsalu said since waves of the virus could last until spring, the restrictions should be looked at in the longterm. He said on Friday freedom of movement is important for people both economically and psychologically.
On Wednesday, during a visit to Latvia, Reinsalu discussed the issue with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics and President Egils Levits. He said they had discussed different models and said health experts from all three countries need to communicate.
"I called for action and work on this, both in public speeches and in meetings with heads of state," Reinsalu said.
He emphasized that although Latvia currently has an infection rate of less than 25 per 100,000 inhabitants as a two-week average, if it rises above 25, Estonia will also be forced to apply the self-isolation rule to those coming from Latvia.
Latvia has already applied this rule to both Estonia and Lithuania.
"My logic in rebuilding the Baltic bubble is that we have certain general principles that we can apply to the logic of the spread of the virus domestically, in the Baltic space and certain principles for those coming from outside," said Reinsalu.
He explained that if the bubble is reinstated, the Baltic states might choose not to close their borders in the event of a major virus spread in some parts of the Baltic states. But, he said this presupposes knowing what measures are being taken to prevent the spread on a regional level.
"At the moment, we are at a turning point about whether the countries in our region will be able to stop the rapid spread of the virus and reach some kind of plateau," Reinsalu said.
"It is very important first to implement national measures in all countries to curb the spread of the virus and then to prepare for the establishment of a bubble if a similar plateau slows down."
The "Baltic Bubble" was first started in May to reintroduce freedom of movement between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after the borders were closed in response to the first wave of coronavirus. At the time, all three countries had similarly low rates of infection.
It ended last month after Estonia and Lithuania's two-week average rose above 16 per 100,000.
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Editor: Helen Wright