The Latvian government has decided to close all its international air, road, sea and railway borders starting from 17 March, the country’s foreign minister announced; this makes it very hard for Estonians to return home from elsewhere in Europe by road.
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“As part of measures to eliminate spread of #CONVID19 (sic) pandemic Latvia temporarily suspends international air, road, sea and railway passenger traffic effective March 17. Detailed information will soon follow,” the Latvian foreign minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, announced on Twitter.
According to the Latvian Delfi news portal, the country – that is under a state of emergency, similarly to Estonia – also banned all public events.
Delfi.lv reports that on 17 March, Latvia will suspend international passenger transport through the airports, seaports, railroad and road crossing points. Latvian nationals and foreigners permanently residing in Latvia will be allowed to return to the country.
No roads lead to Estonia
Latvian diplomatic and consular representations abroad will no longer issue short or long-term visas for entry to Latvia.
This also effectively means that, starting the shutdown, Estonians returning home from elsewhere in Europe by road will have very limited options. They can’t travel through Latvia, obviously, nor can they travel via Russia, unless they have a Russian visa. Poland is on a shutdown, and Denmark has also closed all its borders – land, sea and air – starting midday 14 March until at least 13 April. The Danish authorities have said that travellers will be turned away at the border unless they can show they have “a legitimate reason” to be there, such as that they are Danish citizens or foreign nationals living and working in the country.
All ferry traffic between Tallinn and the Swedish capital, Stockholm, will be suspended starting 15 March. The ferries still run between Tallinn and the Finnish capital, Helsinki.
It’s also noteworthy to mention that many Estonians travel via Riga Airport as the air traffic from Tallinn has become increasingly limited in the last few years.
Cover: The Latvian-Estonian border between the Estonian town of Valga and the Latvian town of Valka. Photo by Vesahjr, shared under the CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.