Baltics Launch Europe’s First Pandemic ‘Travel Bubble’
As widely reported, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have finally opened their common borders as the Baltic region starts getting back to its regular state after the economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus issue. This has created what can be referred to as the first “travel bubble” among the countries in the European Union.
Some Estonian border officers got rid of all the signs stopping cars and other automobiles from entering into the border. Afterward, the border officers took cake and coffee together at the end of the activities.
After the first vehicles passed through the borders of Baltics, Martin Maestule said that “We have the little celebration because the border is now open again.”
So, if you want to have Baltic tours to explore Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, you can start preparing to do so now.
With this new development, citizens and residents of these three Baltic countries can now enjoy movement from one nation to another without any restriction. However, any individual coming from outside will need to observe self-isolation for 14 days.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis noted that “The Baltic Travel Bubble is an opportunity for businesses to reopen, and a glimmer of hope for the people that life is getting back to normal.”
The opening of the borders of these Baltic nations came at the time when the executive of the EU is persuading its 27 member nations to open their internal borders again and allow people to travel wider with strict adherence to safety measures like putting on face masks during flights.
The infection rate of COVID-19 has slowed down in the Baltic nations as none of them reported over 12 new cases on Thursday. Besides, lockdowns have been stopped by the authorities since the end of April.
Also, the total number of deaths recorded by these nations is less than 150. This is significantly lesser than Germany, Spain, Italy, France, or other larger countries in the EU.
According to officials, about 120 vehicles passed through the border between Lithuania and Latvia within the first hours of opening it on Friday.
Also, on Friday, foreign ministers of Estonia and Lithuania went to Riga for the signing of a 3-way memorandum on the plan of the three nations to operate the travel zone collectively. The officials didn’t shake hands and maintained a distance of 2 meters between each other. During the meeting, they signed three copies of the document.
It is worthwhile to note that these three countries are the poorest members of the EU zone. It is believed that their economies will go down by 7 to 8% this year. The drop could have been 10% or more if the economies of these nations are not opened before the summer comes.
Notably, people can now travel between Poland and Lithuania as well as Finland and Estonia as the restrictions were removed recently. However, neither Finland nor Poland is in haste to be a part of the full “travel union” proposed by the Baltic nations.