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Coronavirus: Norway to make digital record of all arrivals at border

Norway’s government plans to digitally register everyone who enters the country from January.

Coronavirus: Norway to make digital record of all arrivals at border
A file photo of the Norwegian border with Russia at Kirkenes. Photo: AFP

A digital system is to be introduced for all travellers arriving in Norway, including Norwegian citizens.

The purpose of the system is to improve authorities’ ability to enforce quarantine rules and thereby limit the spread of Covid-19, NRK reports.

“You can expect to be checked for whether you break quarantine rules. You can decide yourself what is an appropriate place (to quarantine), but if you break the rules you can expect a solid fine,” justice minister Monica Mæland said on Wednesday.

Everyone who crosses the border, including Norwegian citizens, will be required to register using the new digital system.

“We are further strengthening control now by implementing a digital system for travel registration. This will mean having to pre-register digitally to receive a code which must be shown at the border in order to enter Norway,” fisheries minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen told NRK.

Information required will include name, contact details, quarantine accommodation and employer in Norway, if relevant.

The system is expected to be ready for use from January 2021.

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Mæland stressed that everyone travelling from ‘red’ countries, to which quarantine requirements are applied, must comply with quarantine, either at a ‘quarantine hotel’ or at another suitable form of accommodation.

Norway currently has a social lockdown in effect in Oslo and national restrictions are also in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Infection numbers in both the capital and nationally are currently at a lower level in comparison with the situation at the end of November, when they were last extended, according to newspaper VG's running analysis of official data.

372 cases of Covid-19 were registered in Norway in the last daily update, including 117 in Oslo, according to national registration system MSIS figures.

But NRK reports a total of 460 cases in the last 24 hours, which it notes is 80 more than the previous day and 19 more than on the same day last week.

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TRAVEL

Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany

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