Tallinn, Stenbock House, 9 October 2020 – At today’s e-session, the government changed the requirements for self-isolation related to border crossings, which will take effect on 12 October. An exception for Valga–Valka was also established.
As of 12 October, the obligation of self-isolation after crossing the border does not extend to people without symptoms who live in the city of Valga or Valka and who move within the boundaries of their local governments during their daily Estonian–Latvian border crossing. The waiver of the isolation obligation makes it possible to maintain a normal way of life in a border twin town. The exception applies regardless of the infection rates in both countries.
The European Union and the Economic Area, the Schengen area, and the countries on the EU common list
The obligation of self-isolation does not extend to those people who arrive in Estonia from a country with an infection rate of less than 25 people per 100,000 inhabitants.
If the country’s infection rate is between 25 and 50, the requirement of self-isolation depends on whether it is lower or higher than 1.1 times the Estonian rate.
If the infection rate is lower than the Estonian rate, the person does not have to self-isolate. If it is higher, then a two-week self-isolation obligation applies.
If a person comes to Estonia from a country with an infection rate of 50 or more per 100,000 inhabitants, they must in any case remain in self-isolation.
The data on national infection rates is updated once a week on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Estonia’s infection rate multiplier of 1.1 allows a 10% fluctuation, which is necessary to exclude re-calculation due to changes in national indicators within a week.
Free movement between the Baltic States and Finland remains in force
The general increase in the self-isolation requirement limit will also change the self-isolation limit for people arriving from Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland from the current 25 to 50. This change ensures that the previously valid principle that people can come to Estonia from these countries to work, study, see a doctor, participate in unavoidable family events, or for transit purposes is maintained.
The Government Communication Office will publish the amendment to order No. 282 and an explanatory memorandum on the website https://www.kriis.ee/en.
Estonia supports the proposal of the Council of the European Union to harmonise the general principles related to travel
The Council of the European Union recommends that Member States introduce a ‘colour-coded’ risk category map to help harmonise travel. The recommendation stipulates that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control will publish a weekly map of risk areas where EU areas are identified pursuant to their level of risk in accordance with the agreed criteria and colour coding. Member States can use this data when imposing movement restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus. The use of the same basic data is an important precondition for the harmonisation of national approaches.
The proposed colour-coding scheme stipulates that if a Member State has had an infection rate of less than 25 per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days and a positive test rate of less than 4%, there will be no restrictions on travelling to that country. Estonia agrees with this approach and also establishes in national law the infection rate of countries (less than 25 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last two weeks) where a person will not be subject to the obligation of self-isolation when entering Estonia.
The colour coding scheme proposed by the Council of the European Union includes orange, red, and grey, all of which indicate the rate of infection or the extent of testing. In these cases, Member States can set their own requirements for self-isolation or other confidence-building measures, depending on their local circumstances.
The Council’s recommendations also provide for a common format for the passenger questionnaire, which will be developed electronically where possible. Member States are also encouraged to cooperate closely on testing, including on the verification of test certificates, and to agree on procedures for the prior notification of possible restrictive measures to other countries, stakeholders, and the public.
Estonia finds that the approval of the Council’s recommendation will help to protect the health and well-being of EU citizens in a way that does not unduly impede freedom of movement and preserves the maximum possible functioning of the internal market. Uniform rules across Europe make it easier for people and businesses to follow them. It is important that the recommendation leaves sufficient flexibility to each Member State to decide on restrictions.