According to an analysis by the Ministry of Justice, Estonia has the right to establish mandatory testing at the border for people entering from third countries who have not been vaccinated with an EU-approved vaccine. Among others, a negative test is also required for unvaccinated people moving between Narva and the Russian city of Ivangorod.
"Currently, the Police and Border Guard Board at the Russian border is also behaving as allowed by the State Border Law. If there is no EU vaccination certificate, pass-through certificate or negative test presented, these people will be sent back from the border," Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said at a government press conference on Thursday.
"People who are unable to provide the kind of evidence that the PPA considers relevant for their vaccination will also be sent back," Kallas said.
Last week, of 49 coronavirus cases brought into Estonia from abroad 32 were connected to people entering from Russia, which has seen a surge in cases with the Delta variant in recent weeks. This is why there has been a growing focus on the Russian border in recent days.
However, Estonian citizens and residents must be let into the country even if their test result is positive.
"We cannot stop our people from coming home. Testing must also have a clear legitimate purpose. If, on the one hand, we want people to be vaccinated, we can't impose a testing obligation on them either because that will decrease the motivation to vaccinate," Kallas said.
The Minister of Justice Maris Lauri (Reform) said according to the legal analysis, Estonia has a legal possibility to demand a negative test from foreign arrivals at the Russian border.
"It was necessary to analyze it thoroughly is to look at the interaction of freedoms and rights in several sections of the Constitution. For example, regarding freedom of movement, Estonian citizens always have the right to enter the Republic of Estonia," Lauri said.
"We can demand testing from those who come from third countries and who have not been vaccinated, who do not have evidence of vaccination according to reliable data from the European Union," Lauri said
If it turns out that the person is positive, then third-country nationals have the right not to be accepted into the country and they need to return home.
"When it comes to Estonian residents, Estonian citizens, citizens of the European Union, we have to accept them," Lauri said.
Tests can also be performed at the Estonian border and everybody needs to take a test. "When the residents of Narva who go to Ivangorod and come back haven't been vaccinated with vaccines approved in Estonia, they don't have a certificate, they should take a test every time," Lauri said.
Editor: Roberta Vaino