Why are the new restrictions being put in place?
After the so-called “British coronavirus variant” (B117) was discovered in Nordre Follo, just south of Oslo, on January 22nd Norway has been concerned that the variant, believed to be significantly more contagious, would cause a third wave which could cripple health services.
The government defended the decision to effectively close its borders by pointing to countries such as Ireland, which had gone from relatively low infection rates to uncontrolled spread in a matter of weeks.
The outbreak of the B117 mutation in Norway is thought to be linked to international travel, with three people currently in isolation in Skien recently having travelled to the United Kingdom.
The border closure therefore is an attempt by the government to curtail the risk of importing the infection. At the moment the degree of contagion in Norway is decreasing, which is seen to give an edge in attempting to control the spread of the new mutation.
The restrictions come after weeks of criticism from the opposition that the government is not doing enough to prevent the import of infection from abroad.
When the new rules apply?
The border closure will take effect at 12am (midnight), the morning of Friday January 29th 2021.
Who does it impact?
The new restrictions will affect anyone who is not a Norwegian national and who does not have residency in Norway. The following groups are no longer permitted entry:
Foreign nationals residing in the EEA and EEA nationals residing in third countries (unless covered by exemptions that also apply to third-country nationals).
Family members apart from core family members in which the children are minors, for both EEA nationals and others, meaning that grandparents, adult children, parents of adult children and romantic partners may no longer visit.
Foreign nationals from countries outside the EEA who are granted a residence permit in connection with work or study, including as a seasonal worker or student.
A foreign national who is to work with film or series production or as a researcher who is exempt from the requirement of a residence permit.
How long will the rules be in place?
The new border closure has initially been implemented for two weeks. It is subject to review, but likely to be extended, according to Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
I live in Norway, but do not have a Norwegian passport, can I still travel to Norway?
Yes, if you have a residence permit. Foreigners living in Norway will still be able to travel.
I have set off and will arrive in Norway on Friday, will I still be granted entry?
Yes. Foreign nationals who have already begun their journey to Norway before the restrictions take effect will be granted entry.
Are there exemptions to the rules?
Yes, there are some groups exempt from the new restrictions. The groups with permission to enter include:
Foreign nationals who reside in Norway.
Foreign nationals for whom special reasons indicate they should be granted the right to enter, such as specific care requirements for persons in Norway or other compelling welfare considerations.
Foreign nationals who are to carry out agreed or formalised parent-child contact.
Close family members of persons residing in Norway, i.e. spouse/ registered partners, stepchildren, parents or stepparents of stepchildren.
Journalists or other personnel on assignment for a foreign media institution.
Foreign nationals who plan an airport stopover in Norway (both in international airport transit and within Schengen).
Seafarers and aviation personnel.
Foreign nationals who perform commercial transport of goods and passengers.
Foreign nationals who work in critical public functions.
Health personnel from Sweden and Finland who work in the Norwegian health and care services.
Will those exempt from the travel restrictions still be subject to other entry requirements?
Yes. They will still be subject to the other entry requirements, such as presenting documentation of a negative coronavirus test taken less than 24 hours prior to entry and travel registration.
The 10-day quarantine and quarantine hotel requirements will remain in place for travellers. All Norwegian nationals may continue to travel into Norway, but are also subject to quarantine duty.