Finnish government opts to open borders to vaccinated travelers from Monday

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

The Finnish government has decided to reopen the country's borders to all vaccinated individuals from Monday, ending weeks of speculation both on when regular commuting between Estonia and Finland could resume, and how long Estonia's northern neighbor would be able to pursue a more rigid travel entry regime than European Union free movement rules dictate.

EU citizens who have completed a coronavirus vaccination course and can prove it via a vaccination certificate no more recently than two weeks before arrival, regardless of the purpose of their visit, will be free to cross Finland's maritime or land border, ERR reports.

This means that work travel between Finland and Estonia is possible again starting Monday, June 21, alleviating problems for employees crossing Finland's western land borders with Norway and Sweden, as well as for Estonian citizens and residents commuting by sea.

If an arrival, traveling to Finland for work, does not have proof of vaccination, they must take a COVID-19 test, followed by a second test within 72 hours, during which time they must quarantine.

As previously, the alternative is a two-week quarantine period, which was largely what had made work travel between the two countries impractical.

Minors – meaning those born in 2005 or later – can enter Finland without any requirement to prove their coronavirus status, Finland's interior ministry says, while border checks remain in place at internal EU borders through to July 11 as things stand, a spokesperson for the authority said.

Non-EU citizens who have real estate in Finland – meaning in practice mostly citizens of the Russian Federation – may also enter the country under the same rules, it is reported.

The development follows several weeks of pressure from the Estonian prime minister, the country's ambassador to Finland, other government ministers, MPs and MEPs, as well as the media, all applied to Finnish premier Sanna Marin and her government.

Humanitarian issues were the most frequently offered rationale; since the border closed again at the beginning of this year, Estonian citizens and residents effectively had to choose which side of the Gulf of Finland to remain on, severing family and friends from one another, it was argued.

Finland was one of half-a-dozen countries, including Germany, the European Commission was scrutinizing due to stricter-than-EU-mandated travel restrictions.

The restrictions were set to expire on June 27, though Finland had been renewing the same regulations on a rolling basis each month, since the start of the year, in line with the epidemiological picture.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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