RIGA - As of today, residents of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia can travel to Finland without going into 14-day self-isolation upon arriving in these countries, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) told LETA.
Finland reopens to travelers from the Baltic states on Monday, June 15. Rinkevics noted that the 14-days self-isolation requirement will be lifted for travelers from the Baltic states, as well as Finland.
At the beginning of June, diplomatic chief Josep Borrell urged European Union member states to start reopening their external frontiers to travelers from outside the bloc from July 1.
Asked how binding the recommendation is for Latvia, Rinkevics said that this is just a recommendation, not a requirement.
"We will base our decisions on the epidemiological situation. At the moment, we are not ready to discuss reopening borders with countries were the infection rate is significantly higher than in Europe or the Baltic region," the foreign minister said.
Rinkevics voiced hope that the situation will gradually improve, but stressed that the government is not ready to name specific dates yet. At the same time, Rinkevics called for stronger coordination on the EU level in matters concerning the reopening of the bloc's external borders. This cooperation has to be close, he said.
"Reopening of the external borders has to be meticulously coordinated, taking into consideration the cumulative infection rate in each particular country, because this is the only way for us to prevent a further spread of the disease," Rinkevics said.
There have been reports about an unspecified number of Latvian expats living in the U.S. who have bought tickets for flights to Latvia but do not know when they will be able to travel to Latvia.
Rinkevics said that most importantly it is necessary to comply with the epidemiological criteria and implement safety measures depending on the country from which the person has arrived in Europe.
"What matters here is not nationality but the country from which the person comes to Europe. Arrivals from countries with high Covid-19 incidence must go into self-isolation and comply with all other requirements. At present, arriving in Europe is only permitted on a legal basis - persons with EU citizenship, resident status or work permits," Rinkevics explained.