Interior Minister: No Nordic leisure travel, but Finland could consider joining the ‘Baltic Bubble’

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File picture of Nordic flags / Credit: iStock

Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo (Green) says that Finland could consider joining the ‘Baltic Bubble‘ – a zone created by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania that allows their citizens to travel freely between the three countries, under certain conditions.

Ohisalo made the comments to reporters on the phone on Friday, after a call with her Nordic counterparts.

On their agenda was a discussion about lifting the recreational travel between the Nordic countries. However, it was decided not to do that yet.

“We are continuously monitoring the epidemiological situation and, based on our observations, we are making decisions in Finland in line with our hybrid strategy. So far, we do not yet have an estimate of when we will be able to change the recommendations on avoiding recreational travel” says Ohisalo in a statement.

“However, citizens of Finland always have the right to return to Finland, and everyone has the right to leave Finland. I therefore appeal to everyone’s sense of responsibility for their own health and that of others” she adds.

Ohisalo says that the Nordic countries, with the exception of Sweden, have stablised their coronavirus situation, so there is not point yet to think about cross-border travel between Nordic nations.

Could Finland join the ‘Baltic Bubble’?

This week the European Commission said this week that Member State should think about allowing recreational travel of their residents from one country to another, if that country has similar coronavirus situations.

The three Baltic countries have decided it’s safe to form their own ‘bubble’ where people without symptoms can move back and forth across borders, as long as they haven’t come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

Now Maria Ohisalo says the government will monitor the situation to see how the disease develops.

“And if it looks good, then of course we may have opportunities to consider easing restrictions on internal borders with our immediate neighbours” the minister explains.

On Thursday Finland eased border restrictions with Estonia, Norway and Sweden to allow travel for work and other essential journeys, without the need for a 14-day quarantine on arrival in Finland.

Despite Tallink reporting brisk demand for their ferry services this week, despite only operating at 50% capacity to try and ensure social distancing on board, the ferry tickets are not supposed to be purchased for recreational travel.

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