Finland opens borders to plane arrivals from Estonia

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Helsinki Vantaa Airport. Source: Finavia

Estonia's northern neighbor Finland is to allow plane arrivals, from Estonia, from the start of next week, for the purpose of work commuting. Arrival by sea is still subject to the same current coronavirus travel regime, which the Finnish government has extended to the end of June.

Finland's closure of its borders following the late autumn 2020 coronavirus wave met with push-back from Estonia, many of whose citizens work in Finland and commute between the two countries. Despite the issue being raised by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) during an official visit with her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin in February, Finland has stuck to its current regime of closing quarantine-free entry to states with a reported 14-day coronavirus rate over 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Since the quarantine period is 14 days, this would made regular commuting impractical and effectively forced Estonian citizens resident in Finland to choose which side of the Gulf of Finland to stay on – a question which had already been posed when the original coronavirus wave arrived in spring 2020.

Estonia's current rate is 137 per 100,000.

However, from Monday, those arriving from Estonia by plane will be exempt from the quarantine requirement, the Estonian foreign ministry's undersecretary, Märt Volmer, said.

Some details still need to be ironed out, Volmer added, with discussions needed with the Finnish authorities to ascertain what their primary concerns are.

Finland's own 14-day rate was just under 50 as of last Friday, according to the Estonian foreign ministry. Only a handful of countries at that time had a 14-day rate which fell below Finland's maximum of 25 per 100,000, one of which was Iceland – whose travelers Finland have indeed opened their borders to.

Estonia's limit is set at 150 per 100,000, which means that as of last Friday, more European countries were on the "green" list than were not, for the first time this year.

Finland is one of six countries which the European Commission warned after the unilateral reinstallation of its border controls in February, amid rising coronavirus rates Europe-wide.  Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Sweden were the other five.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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