Finland’s travel restrictions irk Estonia

These new restrictions will make life more difficult for Estonians, particularly for the thousands of workers - most of whom work in the building sector - who will no longer be allowed to commute between countries.  [Shutterstock/Novikov Aleksey]

The strict travel restrictions imposed by Finland to limit the spread of COVID-19 have caused irritation among Estonian politicians and business leaders.

Starting from Wednesday, entering Finland from other EU countries will only be allowed until 25 February for people whose work is considered “essential”, meaning if it is important for society’s functions, security, or supply. As of that date, quarantine and testing procedures will also be tightened.

However, these new restrictions will make life more difficult for Estonians, particularly for the thousands of workers – most of whom work in the building sector – who will no longer be allowed to commute between countries. 

In response, Estonian MEP Urmas Paet said the Finnish decision was against EU and Schengen Area principles, whole Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu called the travel restrictions unacceptable and asked the Finnish government to think again and find a more balanced situation, Estonian and Finnish media reported. For his part, Tallink CEO Paavo Nögene urged Estonian healthcare workers in Finland to go on strike.

Regardless of these protests and even if Estonia were to test all travellers, it is most likely that Finland will not reverse its decision.

“All good ideas are welcome, even if implementing them would take time,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Helsingin Sanomat in an interview on Sunday.

(Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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