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When will Norway lift its travel ban and what is still in place?

Norway's justice ministry is able and ready to extend border controls until at least August 15 when the current controls expire on May 15, a spokesman has told VG, but a decision has yet to be taken. We look at what restrictions are in place.

When will Norway lift its travel ban and what is still in place?
Customs official stop cars entering Norway on March 16, the first day controls were introduced. Photo: Vidar Ruud/NTB/AFP

Norway introduced border controls on March 16 which are set to expire on May 15. 

Andreas Skjøld-Lorange, a justice department press officer, said that the government had already given the EU four weeks notice that it might extend the measure. 

“It is not decided whether to extend for 90 days, but the Ministry of Justice and Emergency Management has reported it in letter form to the EU so that we can do so after May 15 if we wish,” he said.

According to another Norwegian government official, it is “quite likely” that some travel restrictions will now be lifted in early in May, perhaps on May 5. “They are gradually loosening up restrictions, so it would be logical that that would also be the case for travel,” he said.

But he said he was near certain that the border control would be extended. 
 
What travel restrictions has Norway already loosened? 
 
On April 8, Norway's Justice Ministry amended the law banning entry to foreign nationals without a residence permit, to make allowances for the long list of special cases which had come up over the preceding fortnight. 
 
The amendment brought in a long list of extra loopholes, allowing many business travellers, diplomats, and family members of residents to enter the country. 
 
 
The exceptions included: 
  • EEA nationals who reside in Norway, and their family members, if those family members reside in Norway.  
  • EEA nationals who are self-employed and who have established or are establishing business activity in Norway.
  • Citizens of the Faroe Islands, Greenland or Åland, and their family members, who reside or work in Norway.
  • Journalists assigned to a foreign news organisation. 
  • Sami (from Russia, Sweden or Finland) herding reindeer across the border. 
  • Diplomats and diplomatic couriers. 
  • Military personnel, their spouses and children (if their application is supported by Norway's Ministry of Defence 
  • Employees of international organisations or employees in organisations that perform international humanitarian efforts, who are on assignment or en route to or from such assignment
  • Foreign nationals whose “presence in Norway is essential to maintain the proper operation of critical public functions”, such as those involved in health, power industry, transport, finance, law and order, defence, water and waste water, electronic communications, satellite-based services, pharmaceuticals, maintenance, and rescue services.
  • Foreign nationals travelling to Norway to see children resident in Norway as part of agreed child visitation rights
The amendment also said there could be possible exemptions from the ban “special reasons”, such as “specific care responsibilities for persons in Norway or other compelling welfare considerations”. 
 
These might included:
  • Minor children and foster children of Norwegian or foreign nationals who live or work in Norway.
  • Foreign nationals visiting a dying or severely ill close family member in Norway. 
  • Foreign national ship passengers who set sail before March 16 and need to enter Norway to get home
What are the quarantine demands and how have they been loosened? 
 
Everyone arriving to Norway must go into quarantine for 14 days. The only exceptions are: 
  • If you are an international worker allowed entry to carry out “socially critical tasks in Norway” (see list above). 
  • If you are a cross-border commuter travelling regularly from or to Sweden or Finland. 
  • If you are visiting a child in Norway as part of agreed visitation rights. 

 

Norway's Directorate of Immigration, has put together an excellent Q&A for foreigners from countries outside the EU or EEA, currently outside Norway and considering travelling to the country. Some of the issues that seem most relevant to readers of The Local are reproduced below. 

Can I enter Norway if I have a residency permit? 

Not necessarily. According to the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration, most of those granted a residency permit after April 20 will not also be issued an entry permit, and so will have to wait until restrictions are eased before moving to the country. The only exceptions are:

  • those who are under-18 whose guardians are living in Noway.
  • spouses or cohabitants of Norwegian citizens who have children together and who have lived as a family abroad. 

If your residency permit and entry visa were granted before April 20, you probably can travel to Norway. If the entry visa is due to expire, you can apply for an extension and an extension to the entry deadline. 

Can I travel to Norway for a funeral?

Yes, if it is the funeral of your immediate family (spouse/cohabitant, sibling, or children, siblings, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. You will still have to comply with the 14 day quarantine rules. 

Can I travel to Norway if I have an existing visitor's visa? 

No. Even if you have obtained a Schengen visa and have a visa sticker in your passport, you will be expelled on the border to Norway. 
 
Can I get a visitor's visa? 

No. Norway stopped taking applications for visitor's visas on March 17. 

If I have a visitor's visa already issued can I have it extended or reissued when borders reopen? 

No. You will need to reapply for a visitor's visa when the country starts taking applications again. 

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TRAVEL

Norway PM Solberg rules out Swedish exemption to coronavirus border rules

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has told her Swedish counterpart Stefan Löfven that Norway will not fully open its border with its Scandinavian neighbour.

Norway PM Solberg rules out Swedish exemption to coronavirus border rules
Norway's PM Erna Solberg says she will not make any exceptions to her country's coronavirus travel restrictions for neighbouring Sweden. Photo: AFP

Solberg made Norway’s position clear during a video meeting between the two Nordic government leaders on Monday, news wire NTB reports.

“It is clear that the Swedes would have like us to be more liberal on the question of borders,” Solberg told NTB.

“But we have a system in place that we are very consistent on, and we are going to continue with that,” she added.

After closing its borders at the outset of the pandemic, Norway lifted travel restrictions with most EEA and Schengen area countries on July 15th, but rising infections in Europe have resulted in a gradual re-tightening of guidelines and rules.

Arrivals from the vast majority of countries in Europe are now required to observe a 10-day quarantine period on arrival in Norway.

For fellow Nordic countries, Norway's health authorities judge on a regional basis, so some Swedish regions can be exempted from quarantine while others remain encompassed by it.

People from Blekinge, Gotland, Kalmar, Norrboten, Södermanland, Värmland, Västernorrland and Åland are currently not required to quarantine on arrival in Norway. People from all other Swedish regions must quarantine. The regional restrictions are updated weekly.

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Norway has a number of circumstances which may exempt you from quarantine rules, include crossing borders between Sweden and Norway for work reasons. The specific details of these exemptions can be complex. If you think you might be encompassed, you can check in more detail on the Helsenorge (Health Norway) website here.

Solberg said on Monday that she recognised the concerns of politicians in Sweden over Norway’s coronavirus travel restrictions.

“I can see the difficulties for them with jobs near the border which have been dependent on Norwegian border shopping,” she said to NTB.

“But we are more concerned with the virus situation,” she added.

Norway enforces its quarantine requirement on EU, EEA and Schengen countries or Nordic regions if the rate of new coronavirus infections is more than 20 cases per 100,000 people for the last two weeks.

“We have seen that we have had infections close to the Swedish border, not least in Indre Østfold (Municipality), which can be traced to some infections being brought over the border,” Solberg said.

She also pointed out that the regionalised approach within the Nordic countries has allowed more open travel from some parts of Sweden even when the country as a whole would qualify for quarantine.

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