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Coronavirus: Norway urges citizens to return home as Russia closes land border

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 14 Mar, 2020 Updated Sat 14 Mar 2020 10:09 CEST
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Norway urged its own residents to return home on Saturday on the same day Russia announced separately that it was closing its land border to Norway and Poland in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.


Reuters news agency reported on Saturday that Norway was asking its own citizens to return home as soon as possible. The Norwegian government has advised against travel to all foreign countries.

“Countries can quickly introduce travel restrictions, quarantine at arrival from countries with coronavirus, and borders can close, flights could be cancelled or other measures initiated,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said on Saturday.

It came on the same day that AGP reported Russia announced it was closing its land borders to foreigners from Poland and Norway, in a bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The ban will come into force at midnight on Saturday and apply to all foreigners travelling "for professional, private, study or tourist reasons", apart from Belarusians, members of official delegations and residents of Russia, said premier Mikhail Mishustin in a statement.

Foreigners in Russia are expected to be allowed to leave however.

Russia has a short land border with Poland in the enclave of Kaliningrad and one with far north of Norway, which runs for about 200 kilometres (120 miles).

Moscow has counted around 45 cases of contamination with COVID-19, but no deaths so far, according to the latest official figures.

On Friday, Russia said it would reduce the number of flights to and from the European Union to stem the spread of the virus. It has already closed its border with China and limited the number of arrivals from Iran and South Korea. 

Norway's government on Friday unveiled a 6.5bn Norwegian kroner financial package to help keep businesses afloat through the coronavirus pandemic. 

The government announced it was suspending fees and taxes for the airline industry, and would pay all but the two first days of the salaries of employees temporarily laid off in a bid to improve companies' liquidity. 

Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference that it was "absolutely impossible to make an estimate" of how much the measures would cost the government. 






AFP/The Local 2020/03/14 10:09

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