At today’s video press conference, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu and Tiina Kallasmaa, Director of the Consular Assistance Division of the Foreign Ministry, gave an overview of efforts to help Estonians return home.
“The peak of the consular crisis is behind us: the nearly 3 000 people who contacted us have returned home over the past weeks. This means that almost all permanent residents of Estonia who were abroad and wanted to return home have done so by now. According to our information, there are still 61 people in need of transport. The Foreign Ministry and our foreign representations continue to communicate with them individually,” Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said.
According to Reinsalu, we are entering a period when returning to Estonia is very complicated due to suspended transport links and quarantine rules, and is likely to become even more difficult. “We do not know how long this will last, however, we should allow for a significant reduction in travel options until at least mid-May or longer,” he said.
Foreign Minister Reinsalu stressed that the borders of Estonia would remain open to Estonian citizens and permanent residents. However, in view of the travel options that have become nearly non-existent and the spread of the virus, the Foreign Ministry asks everyone to seriously consider whether travelling is essential. This applies especially to the groups more at risk when it comes to the virus. If you choose to remain abroad, you must follow the instructions of local authorities and make sure that you do not breach the terms of your visa or any other conditions for being in the country in question during the emergency.
Tiina Kallasmaa, Director of the Consular Assistance Division, emphasised that the Foreign Ministry would help people who are in need of assistance abroad, including those who need help due to the coronavirus — for example, if the situation changes suddenly in their current location. “Our 24-hour helpline +372 5301 9999 continues to operate and naturally you can also contact our embassies. You should also continue to be in touch with travel agencies and transport companies,” Kallasmaa said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia