Narva border crossings up threefold
The number of people crossing the border at Narva has grown threefold compared to last year, while tougher coronavirus measures have not been ordered yet.
The government has made a preliminary decision for tougher border control for people coming from outside the European Union, while it remains unclear when the new border rules will enter into force, "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Friday.
Coronavirus concerns are most immediate on the other side of the eastern border, said Ago Kõrgvee, head of Narva Hospital and member of the city's vaccination effort working group.
"We can thank God for the infection rate falling in Narva and things having become much better. However, what is happening across the border is terrifying. Narva is a gateway to Estonia and we need to consider how to control cross-border traffic," he said.
Border crossings are on the rise in Narva. June saw 36,000 people cross the border, up more than threefold from the same period last year. The average number of daily border crossings was 11,000 before the start of the coronavirus crisis.
It is because more people are vaccinated. Also, people who can apply for a special permit for crossing the border. In other words, those who live very close to the border, have parents or children on the other side, said Marek Liiva, deputy commander of the Narva-1 border station.
Elizaveta Menšugina, who crossed the border into Estonia on Friday, said that the coronavirus period has not made crossing the border difficult for her.
"Nothing has changed, as I have both Russian and Estonian citizenship. My child lives in Narva and crossing the border together is not difficult either. It is very convenient that you can get tested on the border in Estonia and will have the results the following day," she said, adding that unlike in Russia, coronavirus testing is free for citizens in Estonia.
People are increasingly taking advantage of the option of getting tested on the border.
"Testing has become more popular and people are diligent. They know how to shorten the mandatory quarantine period and are being very responsible when it comes to testing," said Merle Harjo, CEO of OÜ Corrigo.
Harju said that over 1,300 Covid tests were administered at the Narva-1 border station in May (ten of which were positive), around 2,100 in June (29 positives) and 105 so far in July (two positives).
Narva that is behind the national vaccination effort has inoculated a third of residents. In parts of Russia close to the Estonian border, only around 10 percent of people have been immunized.
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Editor: Marcus Turovski