Three Baltic nations are poised to create a “travel bubble” that will see them opening their borders to each others’ citizens from May 15. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have agreed to open the internal borders between them while the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
The arrangement will facilitate travellers between the three countries, but neighbouring countries, including Russia, Belarus, and Poland, will be excluded from the bubble for now, as will travellers from elsewhere. The three countries have come to this agreement as they believe that they have successfully managed the spread of Covid-19, with Estonia recording 55 deaths, Lithuania 48 and Latvia 17. Consequently, the Lithuanian government has stated that the three countries can implement this arrangement as they "trust each other’s health care systems.”
Its prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis, has confirmed that travellers arriving from outside the "bubble" will be required to spend 14 days in quarantine. “We will keep to this principle when dealing with countries where the situation is very bad, which did not take measures to control the virus spread,” he said, adding that Poland and Finland could be the next countries to join the free travel area. The European Commission has recommended that once the virus situation is sufficiently under control, internal border controls between all member states should be lifted in a co-ordinated manner.
A pattern for this type of arrangement may be emerging as New Zealand and Australia are also considering creating a "travel bubble" or what is known formally as the "trans-Tasman Covid-safe travel zone."