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Estonia tightens Covid entry rules for arrivals from Finland

However, two Baltic ferry firms say they don't believe the changes will significantly affect the already-low passenger numbers.

Kuvassa on Helsingistä lähtenyt Eckerö Linen M/S Finlandia-alus toukokuussa 2020.
Aerial photo of an Eckerö ship at sea. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle

Starting on Monday people in Finland wishing to travel to Estonia will need to fulfil heightened Covid-related requirements.

Due to Finland's recent uptick in new Covid cases, Estonia elevated Finland to the 'amber' level from its previous 'green' status on its traffic light travel model.

The new assessment means that, going forward, travellers from Finland arriving in Estonia will need to show a certificate of recovery from a Covid infection, proof of being fully vaccinated against the disease or documentation proving a negative coronavirus test result.

Under normal circumstances leisure travel between the two countries is usually busiest at this time of year.

However, due to the continuing pandemic, passenger traffic is so minimal that the new hurdles will not likely affect the number of people travelling, according to Ida Toikka-Everi, the marketing and communications director at ferry firm Eckerö Line.

"For the past year-and-a-half, passenger traffic between Finland and Estonia has been very minimal. However, travel is still possible and reasonably straightforward," she said, adding that the new rules could delay entry into the country to some extent.

Quick tests available aboard some ships

Some ferries offer quick Covid testing services, but they are not free-of-charge. Travellers under the age of 12 are not required to show proof of a negative Covid test in order to enter Estonia, however.

The changes may come as a surprise to passengers who reserved their tickets in advance.

Ferry company Tallink Silja's communications specialist, Armi Kailio, said the firm hopes that passengers will find out what sort of documents are needed to travel ahead of their departures.

"Of course we update the information on our website and also inform passengers on board our ships," she explained.

"Follow the rules"

Meanwhile, Eckerö Line has called on passengers' personal responsibility.

Eckerö's Toikka-Everi said that learning that a passenger has tested positive for Covid while aboard the ship can be problematic.

"It can be difficult to transport a Covid-positive passenger. Everyone is definitely encouraged to ensure they are healthy when they depart. People need to take responsibility for their health and actions," she said.

"It's always the passenger's responsibility to familiarise themselves with — and follow — the instructions and rules," Toikka-Everi added.

Neither of the two ferry firms' representatives said they think the new restrictions would result in a flurry of cancellations, however.

Tallink Silja has reported there were no more cancellations than usual over the weekend and that there were no plans to suspend scheduled routes between the Baltic Sea neighbours.

As of Sunday, Finland's coronavirus infection rate stood at around 130 out of 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, while Estonia was at around 138, according to the World Health Organization's (WHO) database.

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