Baltic states open Europe’s first corona pandemic ‘travel bubble’ as restrictions ease | ABC News

While the curve steepens in Russia, to the country’s west in the Baltic States the outbreak has been largely contained.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have opened their common borders, creating the first “travel bubble” within the European Union in a bid to jump-start economies broken down by the coronavirus pandemic.

A dozen Estonian border guards removed all signs directing vehicles to stop at the border and huddled together at the roadside for cake and coffee.

“We have the little celebration because the border is now open again,” one officer said as the first cars sped through.

Citizens and residents of the three Baltic nations are now free to travel within the region, though anyone entering from outside will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

The neighbours opened as the EU executive sought to coax the 27 member states to reopen internal borders and restart wider travel.

New coronavirus infections in the three countries have slowed to a trickle, with none of them reporting more than a dozen new cases on Thursday. The region as a whole has recorded fewer than 150 deaths from the disease.

Further to the south-west, Germany is loosening quarantine rules for travellers arriving from the European Union, the Schengen passport-free zone and the United Kingdom.

Authorities will only recommend travellers go into quarantine if they arrive from countries with elevated numbers of infections, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said.

A mandatory two-week quarantine still applies for travellers from countries outside the EU.

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