Are Norwegians not respecting the tight quarantine rules?

Are Norwegians not respecting the tight quarantine rules?
Illustration photo of Trondheim, Norway: Martin Bureau/AFP
Norway has tight rules for quarantine both for travellers arriving in the country and for anyone in Norway suspected of being infected, but a survey suggests the rules are not being respected by everyone.

A new study has shown that six out of ten Norwegians who have received an order to quarantine or isolate due to the coronavirus have broken the order.

The survey from the University of Bergen and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health found that those aged over 50 broke the quarantine order the most.

According to Norwegian news NRK more than half of those asked to self-isolate stated that they had broken the quarantine rule that had been asked of them, at least once. Just 42 percent said they had completed isolation and just a quarter of those without any symptoms complied with the order.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health states that those who have to be quarantined are basically healthy, but have been in a situation where they may have been infected.

This applies to close contacts with people with Covid-19 and people who have been travelling in an area with a lot of infection. These people should quarantine for 10 days to prevent them from infecting others before they even get symptoms.

Those that have to isolate are those who have suspected or proven coronavirus but do not need to be in hospital. A doctor considers how long you need to be isolated but it must be for at least 8 days after becoming ill.  

Travellers arriving in Norway from certain countries are also required to self-isolate.

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

According to the survey, those who most often break the quarantine and isolation are people over 50 years of age. 76 percent of the population between the ages of 50 and 69 have broken the rules at least once.

“There has been a lot of talk about young people partying, but in our data it is the young people who are by far the best at complying with quarantine and isolation”, says Bjarne Robberstad, Professor of Health Economics at UiB.

“72 percent of the participants in the survey between the ages of 18 and 29 stated that they have completed the quarantine or isolation imposed on them.

“The worst are the 50-60-year-olds – only one in four complied with quarantine and isolation”, Robberstad adds.

“When the virus first broke out in Norway, people were good at following the quarantine rules. About two-thirds stayed home when asked to do so, but the spirit of hard work quickly disappeared.

“Already in May, when society began to open up, this fell to about half. Then it looks like people shrugged their shoulders”, says Robberstad.

The director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Frode Forland, says that the figures must be interpreted with caution, but that they indicate that many do not follow the rules.

“I think it is a pattern, such as that many do not follow the one-metre rule and parties, where people no longer take the infection control measures seriously”, says Forland.

Forland thinks that communication about how important it is to comply with quarantine and isolation must be improved.

The survey is meant to be representative of the Norwegian population and the findings reflect the whole of Norway.

“I think this is important that the Norwegian population is aware of of the situation so that we can adjust the course if necessary”, says Robberstad, Professor of Health Economics at UiB.

This is the first part of a large study on how Norwegians have reacted during the pandemic.

Later, more of the research will become known. Among other things, more research will be done on the reasons why people break quarantine and isolation.

“This is a collaboration between a number of European countries, so it will be exciting to compare Norwegian figures with other countries. Norway is the first to release exactly these statistics”, says Robberstad.

There is advice on how to isolate or quarantine from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health here.


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