Travel from Russia to Estonia to become complicated soon

Narva border checkpoint. PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

Minister of Justice Maris Lauri has ordered her staff to complete the bill of border crossing regulations by Thursday. The toughest entry rules will concern Russia, hit hard by the Indian (Delta) strain. According to the upcoming bill, border crossing can be stopped completely as the situation with the virus should deteriorate.

After a legal analysis the government knows that Estonia has the lawful right to demand negative corona virus test at the border with Russia. People can currently cross the border from Russia if they present the certificate of either vaccination or recovery from the disease. The restriction of freedom of movement would not be extended to those vaccinated.

According to Egert Belichev, deputy director general of the Police and Border Guard Board, checking the corona certificates issued by third countries will increase their workload. “The vaccination certificates issued by Estonia carry a QR code which can be scanned so as to quickly check whether the data is truthful and up-to-date. The vaccination certificates issued by third countries are often on paper and without security features, making the checking of their authenticity complicated and time-consuming,” Belichev said.

He added that certificates of vaccination, recovery or negative test result not meeting the standards or raising suspicion of forgery have been encountered on the eastern and southeastern border, earlier also in the northern region. “These individuals have been prevented from entering the state. There are also rumors that certificates of vaccination can be purchased for money in some third countries without being vaccinated,” Belichev said.

Estonian citizens are allowed home

“The government sitting will take place on Thursday and all signs show that the bill would be passed by that time,” Maris Lauri told Postimees and added that the ministry staff has been reminded about the need to complete the bill as soon as possible.

According to the bill, all individuals entering from third countries like Russia have to show a certificate of negative result of nasopharyngeal test. Estonia also has the right to impose rules concerning entry conditions: those arriving in Estonia from Russia by air most already have a negative corona test result. “And if the arrive by land, for example through the Narva border crossing station, the test would be carried out on the border,” Lauri explained.

If the test turns out positive, Estonia has the right to refuse entry to citizens of third countries and to turn them back at the border. However, citizens or residents of Estonia or citizens of the EU have to be allowed in – in that case they will be subjected to restrictions of movement to prevent infection of others.

“Our own people will naturally allowed to return home, regardless of whether they are healthy or sick,” said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, adding that infected Estonian citizens would have to be isolated when returning home.

Antibodies rapid tests are acceptable as well

The government has agreed that rapid tests for antibodies can also be accepted besides the PCR test on arrival in Estonia from high infection risk countries. If the initial rapid test result is negative, a PCR test would have to be carried out on the sixth day to reduce the isolation period.

However, a ten-day restriction of the freedom of movement from today until July 11 will be imposed on those entering Estonia from EU, EEC and Schengen area countries with infection rate over 150 per 100,000 residents within the past 14 days. Entrants from Cyprus, Portugal and the UK will be isolated.