Estonian govt supports joint Baltic statement on public health

  • 2020-05-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN – The Estonian government on Thursday endorsed a joint statement by the ministers of health of the three Baltic countries on the protection of public health for the containment of the spread of COVID-19 in connection with the lifting of restrictions on travel between the Baltic countries. 

"Our people's responsible behavior has helped to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19 in the Baltic countries, and this allows to restore the movement of residents between the three  countries," Estonia's Minister of Social Affairs Tanel Kiik said through spokespeople.

"Although were are gradually opening up movement opportunities, one still must stay at home when sick and carefully think through one's travel plans. It is essential for people in all the three  countries to know where to turn to when falling ill and rapid exchange of information must be ensured between the countries' health boards and other competent institutions to rapidly identify the close contacts of those who have fallen ill," Kiik said.

It was agreed in the joint statement that it will be possible for permanent residents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to freely travel between the Baltic countries and they will not be obliged to quarantine for 14 days after arrival or testing for COVID-19 required from them, provided that the person has not been obliged to quarantine in their home country, they have not been to countries other than the three Baltic states during the past 14 days, and they have no symptoms of illness. 

Quarantine or testing may be required only if the person has entered the Baltic states from third countries or displays obvious symptoms of an illness of upper respiratory tract.

The joint statement on public health measures complements the memorandum of understanding agreed between the foreign ministries of the three countries, which deals with the lifting of the movement restrictions. The memorandum is to be signed by the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Friday.

The move to relax the restrictions concerning border-crossing between the three Baltic countries was initiated by prime ministers Juri Ratas of Estonia, Krisjanis Karins of Latvia and Saulius Skvernelis on Lithuania during a video meeting on April 22. The decision to reopen the borders between the countries from May 15 was made by the three heads of government during a video meeting on May 6. 

The Estonian Cabinet supported the proposal to lift the restrictions on movement between the countries from May 15 on the condition that people arriving in Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania from third countries will remain in isolation for 14 days and the police authorities of the three countries will see to necessary information exchanges to ensure this.