Isamaa tables bill making COVID-19 testing legal requirement for arrivals

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

MPs from opposition Isamaa tabled a bill on Monday which would facilitate mandatory coronavirus testing for arrivals at Estonia's borders, which, the bill's proponents say, would diminish the need for future, stricter travel restrictions.

The change would also permit sick pay during quarantine periods, Isamaa says.

At present, testing is not mandatory, though proof of testing negative for COVID-19 is required for U.K. arrivals, and taking a test can reduce quarantine periods.

Isamaa MP and former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu said: "A variety of more rapidly-transmitted mutations of coronavirus are spreading across national borders."

"An effective measure for combating them is to impose a general requirement for the testing of individuals before travel or immediately after arrival in the country, which is enabled by existing law," Reinsalu said via party spokespersons, BNS reports.

Reinsalu: Current system prioritizes testing and quarantine the wrong way round

Reinsalu said setting testing as the legally initial requirement, and quarantine as an alternative for those who refuse testing, as key, as distinct from the current system which, according to Reinsalu, is set up the other way round, i.e. it is generally possible to free oneself of the requirement for self-quarantine as an initial legal requirement, via two tests taken in succession over a few days.

Reinsalu said the move would also eliminated the need for more extensive restrictions on cross-border travel.

He also said that this principle is supported by the government's scientific advisory board.

Reinsalu added that such a system earlier was not instigated earlier arose from the fact that, in the event of refusal of taking a test, the Heath Insurance Act calls for the application of a quarantine period for which a sickness benefit is payable, in the case of Estonian citizens.

Conversely, under the existing system of reverse self-isolation, no sickness benefit is paid for the period of time spent in self-quarantine.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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