Estonian-Finnish working group discusses how to restore cross-border travel

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Tallink ship departing from Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

On Wednesday, the inter-agency COVID-19 working group of Estonia and Finland met to discuss options for restoring work migration between the two countries in light of additional measures introduced by Finland.

The updated border measures are in force from January 27 to February 25 to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"We understand that Finland's decisions are based on public health considerations and taken in view of the need to stop the spread of the virus, including its new strain. The infection rate of Finland is among the lowest in Europe," deputy secretary general of the Estonian Foreign Ministry for legal and consular affairs Erki Kodar said.

"The aim of the proposals made by Estonia is to apply additional health protection measures and find ways to continue economic activities by restoring cross-border movement, including work-related migration," he said.

The proposal presented in the working group includes the need to protect public health and stop the spread of the virus, and discussions touched on the possibility of introducing mandatory testing for people entering Finland and restrictions after temporarily returning to Estonia. The proposals submitted for consideration to Finland concern several agencies.

The working group agreed that detailed discussions on the proposals would continue between health experts in the coming days and the group will meet next week to continue talks. The foreign ministers of Estonia and Finland touched upon the same topic in their video call on Wednesday and plan to discuss it again on Friday.

On January 22, the Finnish government adopted further restrictions, limiting the movement of people migrating for work. From midnight on January 27 until Febuary 25, in addition to Finnish citizens and residents, only people performing essential duties for the functioning of society or for security of supply are allowed to enter the country. The exemption also extends to certain specifically defined special groups. 

Due to the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to advise against any non-essential international travel. At present, states can decide to close their borders at very short notice, which brings unexpected travel disruptions. The Foreign Ministry urges everyone to check for the latest travel information on the Reisi Targalt (Travel Wisely) website, and consult with travel agents and transport companies before traveling internationally.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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