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Friday's papers: Estonia opens borders, Montenegro welcomes Finns, warm weekend

Finland's press looks into issues concerning foreign travel with summer on the doorstep.

Kuvassa on näkymä Länsiterminaaliin.
Tourists will be permitted to travel from Finland to Estonia from Monday, 1 June. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

As the debate over domestic leisure travel within Finland continues, tabloid Iltalehti reports that Estonia will open its borders to Finns and citizens of other Schengen countries from next Monday, 1 June.

IL quotes Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu as saying that the opening of the border applies to Finnish nationals arriving from Finland, including tourists.

"From Monday, Finns will be able to enter Estonia without restrictions. They are allowed to travel to Estonia for any reason and will not be quarantined here," Reinsalu told IL, adding that citizens from countries with a high level of coronavirus infections, such as Sweden, Italy and Spain, will be required to enter quarantine if they travel to Estonia.

IL writes that the decision to reopen the border was made “primarily on economic and political grounds”, as tourism is considered to be the country's most important industry.

The pressure to allow tourists back into Estonia has gradually increased in recent weeks as local media have carried a number of reports on the devastating effect the lack of tourists is having on the hospitality industry.

Despite the decision by Estonian authorities, Finland’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs confirmed to the tabloid on Thursday evening that the Finnish border will remain closed to non-essential travel from Estonia.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told IL that he has been in close contact with the Estonian authorities, but their discussions have not led to a joint decision to restore normal, two-way traffic between the countries.

Reinsalu, Haavisto's counterpart in Tallinn, added that the reopening of the border should not however be taken as an invitation to travel to Estonia.

"Estonia does not encourage Finnish people to travel abroad and urges everyone to adhere to strict hygiene rules," Reinsalu said.

Montenegro opens too

While one door opens to Finns, another remains firmly shut.

Helsingin Sanomat writes that Montenegro, which earlier this week declared itself Europe’s first "coronavirus-free state" after more than three weeks since the last confirmed diagnosis, will also open its borders again to leisure travel.

Tourists from Finland, however, will not be welcome. Edit 1.23pm: Finnish tourists are now permitted to travel.

According to HS, Montenegrin authorities will only admit citizens from countries with a coronavirus infection rate of 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.

As of Thursday 28 May, there were 122 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants in Finland, which is almost five times the limit set by Montenegro, and means that Finland did not make the list of "welcome" countries announced by the Balkan country's Prime Minister Duško Marković.

HS writes that the logic of Montenegro’s decision is not very different from that of other countries which plan to lift travel restrictions primarily in "bubbles", such as between New Zealand and Australia, to which countries with approximately equal or lower infections are eligible.

Warm weather moves in as school holidays begin

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that the first heat of summer is expected in Finnish Lapland this weekend, with temperatures forecast to climb as high as 25 degrees Celsius along the valley of the Tornio river.

The rest of the country can also look forward to a sunny and warm weekend, despite intermittent showers, as summer holidays begin for Finnish schoolkids.

IS writes that daytime temperatures in southern and central parts of Finland will rise above 20 degrees Celsius, but a north-easterly wind and light rainfall will keep the air feeling cool.

There is a warning from Iiris Viljamaa of the Finnish Meteorological Institute to "enjoy it while it lasts" as more changeable weather conditions are forecast for the middle of next week.

"From Wednesday the weather patterns start to show instability, and the possibility of rainfall will increase as the high pressure begins to subside," Viljamaa said.

Edit: Updated at 1.23pm as Montenegro subsequently added Finland to the list of eligible countries. Helsingin Sanomat article updated at 11.46am.

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