Baltic States Reopen Borders to Each Other’s Citizens
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have today become the first EU nations to open their borders to each other’s citizens as coronavirus restrictions slowly begin to ease.
In a video conference on May 6th, the prime ministers of the 3 Baltic states, made the decision to lift the restrictions. It was agreed at that time, that as of May 15th, restrictions would be lifted including the two-week self-isolation requirement for Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian citizens traveling between the Baltic states. Citizens of the Baltic states returning from other countries will be obliged to isolate themselves in their respective countries.
In a public announcement this morning, the three prime ministers announced the news saying that the first wave of COVID-19 has been brought under control.
The Baltic states have not suffered to the same extent as many other EU nations due to coronavirus. Across the three countries, the total coronavirus death-toll has been less than 150, while total reported cases have been just over 4,000.
The numbers of reported new infections is also low. The combined daily number of new cases reported on May 15th across the three countries is less than thirty.
The opening of borders between EU states is likely to continue over the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis of Lithuania has also held talks with the Polish premier, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki about plans to begin opening the borders between their two countries.
Following a video meeting between the two on May 4th, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said he believed that the first step to open the borders could be to resume the movement of border workers between Poland and Lithuania, along with the resumption of student exchanges in the short term.
He referred to the contributions coordinated actions by the Baltic states and Poland could make to a more active EU-wide action on COVID-19.
Germany has begun partial reopening of its borders and has said it will fully reopen all borders in mid-June if the number of reported new cases does not increase significantly.
Speaking about the reopening of the borders between the Baltic states, Head of the Latvian Government, Krišjānis Kariņš said, ‘Today is an important day because we, the three Baltic states, have returned to the common space, allowing the free movement of people between the three Baltic states.’
Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia, Jüri Ratas, emphasized the consistent efforts of the people of the 3 countries to control the spread of the coronavirus. ‘…,we can now take the next step towards our regular daily lives, and once again freely travel between our countries,’ he said.
Image by Inara Murnieve tiekas ar Lietuvas via creativecommons.org