Warsaw, Poland – The Baltic states and Poland have agreed to reopen borders and resume free travel next week, as the current “Baltic bubble” that allows free movement between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is expanded.
“We agreed that free movement between the Baltic states and Poland will be resumed next week. It will be coordinated by the responsible ministries as a matter of urgency,” Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis posted on Facebook earlier today.
He announced it after talking with his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki.
Poland will join the so-called “Baltic bubble”, which allows citizens and residents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to travel freely across the Baltics since the three countries opened their borders to one another last month in a bid to jump-start economies broken down by the coronavirus pandemic. It was Europe’s first “travel bubble” since nations began shutting their borders earlier this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevičius had stated earlier this week that Poland and Finland would be the next “logical participants” to expand the current “Baltic bubble”, after a meeting between Polish and Baltic foreign ministers.
“If we look at the map, Poland is important for our people as a transit corridor”, added Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu.
Meanwhile, Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz stated that the country plans to open its borders in the coming weeks, but is yet to decide on a concrete timeline.
“As we are on a good track, I hope that within the next weeks the restrictions will be lifted and travel will be possible for holidays,” Czaputowicz told reporters. “There’s a discussion also within the EU, maybe this bubble will be the EU bubble – I hope.”
On Monday, state-owned Polish airline LOT announced it had resumed domestic flights between eight cities, allowing Polish citizens and residents to take to the skies after nearly three months.
Borders are also opening all over Europe with the Czech government agreeing to fully reopen its borders with neighbours Austria and Germany and to allow unrestricted travel to and from Hungary as of today after opening its border with Slovakia yesterday.
The Czech Republic is also planning to allow unrestricted travel from more than 20 European states from June 15, while visitors arriving from places where the epidemic is still widespread will have to provide a negative COVID-19 test or be quarantined on arrival.
Both Poland and the Czech Republic had previously expressed their desire to open up borders with countries in the region where the epidemiological situation is satisfactory, prompting talks of the establishment of a Central European “mini-Schengen” area, modelled on the “Baltic bubble”.