Prime Minister Kaja Kallas voiced concerns over strict restrictions on labor migration between Estonia and Finland during a meeting with the Finnish ambassador on Friday.
Kallas (Reform) met with Finnish Ambassador Timo Kantola to discuss the difficulties thousands of Estonia workers in Finland have faced in recent months. Many have had to choose between their work in Finland and families in Estonia. On Thursday, the Finnish government said traveling for work could start again but only by plane and not by ferry.
"The situation of many people of Estonia involved in labor migration to Finland has been difficult already for four months due to travel restrictions, as family members are separated from each other," Kallas said according to spokespeople for the government.
"While yesterday's decision by the government of Finland does alleviate the situation to a certain extent, but just allowing air connections will not allow a return to normal life. The preference for one mode of transport over another also remains incomprehensible. Especially when the wish is to use the epidemiological situation as an argument," Kallas said.
She stressed that the spread of the virus is decreasing in both countries and vaccination is progressing at a good pace.
"Estonia has put forward different solutions to prove the safety of passengers. For three months already, shipping companies have been requiring from passengers a certificate of a negative test result as a precondition for boarding. Seamless and secure travel is also facilitated by the introduction of a digital vaccination certificate," Kallas added.
Kallas said that the restrictions on cross-border movement imposed by Finland are no longer proportionate and justified in the current situation. According to Estonia, they do not comply with the recommendations concerning travel agreed jointly by the Council of the European Union or the Schengen Borders Code. The free movement of people is one of the fundamental principles of Europe.
The prime minister said it is also a cause for concern with the restrictions that the good relations between Estonia and Finland are being called into question in public, and she expressed hope to the ambassador that a solution will be reached soon.
Travel restrictions are applied if a person enters Finland from a country with a 14-day infection rate of 25 per 100,000 people or more. On Friday, Estonia's rate was 128.
Editor: Helen Wright