What are Norway’s strict quarantine rules for travellers and what happens if you break them?

What are Norway’s strict quarantine rules for travellers and what happens if you break them?
File photo: AFP
Norway now requires people from most countries in Europe and all travellers from outside the EU/Schengen area to quarantine for 10 days after travelling to the country. We take a closer look at the rule.

Editor's note: Norway's rules on who is required to quarantine and what is required are subject to change. Check with national authorities prior to travel.

 

Norwegian police said Thursday they had expelled a foreigner who violated quarantine rules and slapped him with a 1,900-euro fine, while immigration officials banned him from re-entering the country for two years.

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The story gained a lot of attention both inside and Norway and shone light on the country's quarantine rules for arriving travellers.

Which countries are on the quarantine list?

The Norwegian Institute for Public Health (NIPH) regularly updates its list of EEA and Schengen area countries which meet and do not meet the country's criteria for quarantine, and the foreign ministry bases recommendations on this, designating countries as ‘red’ or otherwise.

Once a country is ‘red', the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travel that is not strictly necessary to that country, and self-quarantine is required for travellers returning or arriving from it. 

Norway's borders have essentially been closed to visitors from outside of the EU/Schengen area since March. There are exceptions, although none for tourists.

Anyone entering Norway from ‘red’ countries in the EEA or Schengen area and ALL travellers from countries outside the EU/ Schengen area are obliged to comply with quarantine requirements.

What are the rules?

On arriving in the country, it is necessary to “present documentation to show (the visitor) will stay continually at a single address for 10 days or for the duration of their stay, if shorter (than 10 days),” Monica Mæland, Norway's justice minister said in a July 10th press release.

In Norway, quarantine means that person is asked to stay home from school or work, not receive visitors, not use public transport and only visit shops or pharmacies if strictly necessary or not at all if it is not possible to maintain social distance. You are also allowed to go outside for a walk if you maintain a one-metre distance from others at all times.

Visitors to Norway must stay in places where they are able to quarantine in this way. As such, staying in a motorhome, caravan, tent or cabin on campsites without a private bathroom or toilet and kitchen is not acceptable if you have to share these facilities with people other than your close contacts or travel companions.

Similarly, you cannot stay at accommodation where you have to share rooms or facilities with others than those you usually live with, such as halls of residence and other homes with shared bathrooms or kitchens.

It is permitted to leave quarantine in order to leave Norway if transport is in line with guidelines from the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

During quarantine, if you suspect you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself completely and get tested for the virus. It is important to know the distinction between ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’ in the Norwegian rules and guidelines: the latter applies if you have confirmed or probable Covid-19 infection. More details can be found on the health authority website.

READ ALSO: New rules in Norway: here's how to get a coronavirus test

Exemptions from quarantine

Norway has a number of circumstances which may exempt you from quarantine rules, but the specific details can be complex.

The circumstances include crossing borders between Sweden and Norway for work; access and contact arrangements between children and parents; or essential services such as health care, safety work or critical public functions.

The exact rules that apply to these circumstances are complex. If you think you might be encompassed, you can check in more detail on the Helsenorge (Health Norway) website here.

You can also be exempted from quarantine if you can prove that you have previously had Covid-19 within the last six months. You must have a laboratory test result showing this. Norway’s regulations state that this test must be of the type rt-PCR.

Although Norway offers free coronavirus testing at some airports, borders and ports, taking a test here does not mean you can cut short your quarantine if the test comes back negative. If the test result is positive, however, you will need to switch from quarantine to isolation (see above).

If you drive through a ‘red’ area while travelling to Norway without leaving your car, you do not have to quarantine; but passengers from flights transiting in a ‘red’ country are subject to quarantine.

What happens if I do not follow the quarantine requirements?

Violation of the quarantine duty is a criminal offence.

Norway’s Covid-19 Regulation paragraph 5 states that “persons arriving in Norway must remain in quarantine for 10 days after arrival in Norway unless an exemption applies to the quarantine obligation”.

The intention of the regulation is to “prevent or limit the spread of Covid-19”.

According to the regulation’s paragraph 19, “intentional or grossly negligent violation of provisions in these regulations is punishable by fines or imprisonment for up to 6 months”, including violation of paragraph 5.


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