The Romantika ferry, usually serving the Rīga–Stockholm route, left Saasnitz late last night carrying Baltic residents stuck on the Germany–Poland border.
Port representative Liene Ozola said that the ferry is scheduled to arrive at about 23.30 on March 19. There are 152 cars and 476 passengers on the ship. A total of 203 passengers are Latvian nationals.
Ozola said that all the passengers have been asked if they have any symptoms and were also informed about the mandatory 14-day quarantine they have to observe after returning. According to the Tallink ferry operator, none of the passengers have reported health problems or symptoms that could be linked to the novel Covid-19 virus.
Ozola said that strict safety regulations will be followed after the ferry arrives in Rīga. Passengers with symptoms will be asked to undergo checkups. Police will convoy Lithuanian and Estonian nationals in passenger cars to their respective borders.
All Latvian arrivals will have to go into 14 day self-quarantine directly on arrival.
The ferry offers a rare chance for Baltic residents stuck in Germany to go back home as international transit is closed and so is the border with Poland.
A range of sweeping measures have been introduced in Latvia in an effort to keep coronavirus at bay, including international travel restrictions and new regulations at retail points of sale.
The full rules and regulations are available to read online in English, and all members of the public are urged to read them and comply in a spirit of solidarity. Social interactions are to be reduced to a minimum and frequent and careful hand-washing is urged as part of a policy characterised as "social distancing".