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Minister rules out lifting travel restrictions with Sweden, Estonia soon

Published : 23 May 2020, 00:15

  DF News Desk

Katajanoka ship terminal in Helsinki. File Photo Port of Helsinki by Veikko Somerpuro.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Friday said that full admittances of travel into Finland from neighboring Sweden and Estonia would still take time, reported news agency Xinhua.

Talking to a Finnish language newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Haavisto said a "Nordic travel bubble" is unlikely in the near future as the infection rate in Sweden is higher than in Finland, Norway or Denmark.

The "Nordic Bubble" is a zone supposed to be created by Nordic countries, allowing their citizens to travel freely between each other under certain conditions.

Commenting on the idea put forward by Lithuania this week that Finland in the North and Poland in the south could join the newly established "Baltic corridor" of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, to allow their citizens to move freely among them, Haavisto said it's too early for Finland.

Haavisto's comments followed a strong warning on Wednesday by Finland's key epidemic official, Mika Salminen, director at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. Salminen cautioned against border relaxation towards Sweden, saying that "admitting Swedes into Finland will be a health risk."

Earlier on Friday, President Sauli Niinistö said at a press conference that he does not believe relations with Sweden will be affected, "even though Finland hesitates about opening the borders to Swedish tourists."

According to the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, as of Friday afternoon, Finland has confirmed 6,537 COVID-19 cases, up by 44 from a day earlier. The death toll remained at 306 as no new death was reported in the last 24 hours.