HELSINKI – Nordics no, Baltics yes

After lifting restrictions on travelling for work and other essential trips on Thursday (14 May) between Finland, Estonia, Norway and Sweden, the Nordic countries decided on Friday (15 May) not to allow cross-border recreational travel because while they have managed to stabilise the spread of COVID-19, the situation in Sweden remains dire.

However, the three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have gone further and created the so-called “Baltic Bubble”, in which people can move across borders as long as they are symptomless and have not come in contact with someone carrying the virus. Finnish Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Greens) did not rule out the possibility of Finland joining “the bubble” and said that the government is monitoring the development closely.

The topic came under discussion after the European Commission suggested that travelling  other than work-related trips from one member state to another should also be possible in case those countries have similar coronavirus situations.

Ohisalo said further steps towards more open borders will be taken in line with the country’s “hybrid strategy”, based on epidemiological observations, but declined to give any timetable.

She also appealed to people’s common sense and responsibility, even if citizens have a constitutional right to leave and return to Finland. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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