Social ministry: Finns have not given us signal when migration could resume

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Ferries at the Port of Tallinn. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary Maris Jesse told ERR that although a meeting of Estonian and Finnish ministers and authority representatives took place on Monday, Finland has still not given Estonia a clear indication for when labor migration could resume.

"Unfortunately, there was no additional info from the Finns to go with what the government decided last week," Jesse said.

She added that communication with Finland has been tight for months to figure out an infection level, which could indicate a return of labor migration between the countries, but the northern neighbors have not presented any specific numbers.

"Estonia's indicators have decreased progressively and our gap with the Finns is significantly smaller than it was a month ago and much smaller than two months ago," Jesse added.

The social ministry official said the Finnish government points to an indicator commonly agreed to in the EU, which means the infection rate per 100,000 people over 14 days must be 25 or below. At that level, unrestricted travel is allowed, for both tourism and commuting.

Estonia is most interested in restoring labor migration. "Finland's position on this question is equal treatment for all countries, that is what they are primarily referring to," Jesse said.

Traveling for work between Estonia and Finland is allowed from this week, but only by planes. Ferries, the main method of travel across the Gulf of Finland, is not allowed.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) met with Finnish Ambassador Timo Kantola on Friday to discuss the difficulties thousands of Estonia workers in Finland have faced in recent months.

Kantola told ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Saturday that the indicator of 25 per 100,000 is from an earlier decision. "The infection situation is still at such a level that we take the virus situation very seriously, but our own infection rate is quite low. However, we still have a tough situation in hospitals in Finland. Even with low rates, this is a serious matter," Kantola said.

The Finnish government will meet next Wednesday with the agenda also containing matters of labor migration.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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