Baltic states prepare to create 'travel bubble'

The so-called Baltic travel area would be first of its kind in the European Union as pandemic curbs eased

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernlis

Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will open their borders to each others’ citizens from 15 May, creating a Baltic “travel bubble” within the European Union amid an easing of pandemic restrictions, their prime ministers said on Wednesday. The Baltic travel area would be first of its kind in the bloc, where most countries restricted entry to non-nationals and imposed a quarantine on incoming travelers as the novel coronavirus spread across the continent.

“We have agreed that all three Baltic states have properly contained the spread of the coronavirus, and we trust each others’ health systems,” Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernlis wrote on Facebook.

“So, starting from 15 May, we are removing all restrictions for citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia traveling between the Baltic states,” he added, stressing that people entering the region from other countries will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

The European Commission has recommended that internal border controls between all Member States should be lifted in a coordinated manner, once their virus situation converges sufficiently, the commission’s office in Lithuania said. Moves to selectively open borders have also emerged elsewhere. Australia and New Zealand are working towards resuming travel between them, though the efforts toward creating a common travel area could take some time.

Meanwhile, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all major trading partners with each other, are also taking cautious steps to re-open their economies after lockdowns imposed as local outbreaks struck.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

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