As the government of Finland extended their established travel restrictions, only allowing travel for essential reasons, ferries operating between Tallinn and Helsinki will continue to do so but at reduced capacities.
Finland's decision came as no surprise to shipping company Viking Line, however.
Viking Line Eesti CEO Inno Borodenko told ERR that there have been no positive changes to speak of. "Unfortunately, there have been no changes, the number of passengers has decreased a lot compared to last year. November and December have always been months where our neighbors to the North have come to Estonia for Christmas shopping and to spend time in our cafes and restaurants," the CEO said.
Katri Link, communications manager for Tallink, noted that they were also hoping on a Christmas campaign. "We were hoping to get more people on board by Christmas to make up for lost time. At the same time, it is understandable that in a situation of high spread, that must be stopped and we are trying to remain understanding," she said.
Link added there are much fewer passengers: "There are 1,500 passengers per ship daily. This means a departure has some 200-250 people, on a ship with a capacity of 2,800. There is enough room to distance sufficiently on the ship, safety is ensured and our ships will continue operating."
Borodenko compared this year's numbers to ones from October in 2019: "If we are looking at October, the decrease in passenger numbers has been 19 percent, totalling more than 100,000 passengers, there have also been fewer vehicles. These are sad numbers."
"We will continue with the schedule we have now and see what the future brings. We are operating on the market along with other companies and are sharing the market. We are all waiting for better times," the Viking Line Eesti CEO said.
Tallink will operate between Helsinki and Tallinn with their shuttle ships on a reduced schedule during winter.
Link explained: "Currently, the schedule is thinner on Saturdays and Sundays. Normally, our shuttles have 12 departures a day, it is six on Saturdays and 10 on Sundays now. The schedule is a bit less dense, but still accomodates to the passengers' needs."
"We are working on surviving the winter. We are living in hope that things will get better in spring and are trying to remain optimistic," the Tallink spokesperson said.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste