Tallink hoping for return to normality in spring with vaccines, testing

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Snow in Tallinn on February 1, 2021. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Tallink hopes that business will be able to increase this spring as the coronavirus vaccination rate rises and negative testing is introduced to allow travel between Finland and Estonia.

Currently, Finland has banned freedom of movement between the two countries and is only allowing in essential workers. This is a serious problem for Estonia as thousands of Estonians live and work while moving between the two countries.

From Tuesday (February 23), a pilot project will take place where a certificate showing a negative PCR test result taken within 72 hours of departure will be required for passengers traveling to Finland. If a person has had a registered case of coronavirus within the last six months they can travel with a doctors note saying they are no longer infectious.  

If the first few weeks of testing go well, it is hoped traveling between the countries will be allowed from March under the same conditions, Tallink's manager Paavo Nõgene told ERR.

"Then it will be possible to restore labor migration again. As far as we know, all shipping companies are ready for this," Nõgene said.

The number of Tallink passengers has decreased by almost half compared to January's figures after Finland implemented new travel restrictions.

Nõgene believes things will start returning to normal once vaccinations have become widespread and he hopes this will happen as soon as possible. He even suggested introducing a rule which would see vaccines used within five days of arrival in Estonia in order to get vaccinations administered quickly. 

"We expect spring to come and then it will be possible to replace the unprofitable business with a profitable business," said Nõgene.

Cruise passengers not required to take a test

Passengers who travel on cruise ships but do not depart at the destination do not have to take a test, the Finnish health authority has said.

Nõgene said the opportunity to travel on the cruise ship is used by quite a lot of people, highlighting boats that travel at the weekends are often busy. All restrictions are followed, such as wearing a mask and following social distance rules which Nõgene said is not difficult on large ships. 

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Editor: Helen Wright

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