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COVID-19

Norway restrictions to gradually ease

Shut down measures in Norway's capital region will start to gradually ease from 3rd February, health minister Bent Høie, announced on Saturday.

Norway restrictions to gradually ease
Karl Johans gate in Oslo on January 30th 2020. Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB/TT

Last Saturday, Norway’s capital Oslo and nine neighbouring municipalities imposed strict shutdown measures, including the closure of all non-essential stores, after an outbreak of a more contagious coronavirus variant, first identified in Britain. It marked the first time that all non-essential shops had been closed.

In addition to these 10 municipalities  — known as ‘Ring 1’ — a further 15 municipalities – termed ‘Ring 2’ – outlying the Ring 1 municipalities also came under stricter measures. 

These strict measures will now begin to ease on 3rd February.

“The infection is still declining in Norway. We now have a better overview of the spread of the mutated virus,” said Minister of Health Bent Høie at a press conference on Saturday.

Stores that are not in shopping centres will be allowed to reopen on Wednesday, as will restaurants. However, they cannot serve alcohol.

Restrictions on schools will also be eased gradually, allowing for more classroom teaching and bigger groups of students, although this will depend on local conditions.

These are some of the ease in restrictions in “Ring 1” (Oslo, Ås and Nordre Follo) from 3rd February:

Yellow level returned to in schools and kindergartens in line with the national traffic light model.

For universities, colleges and vocational colleges, the premises are still closed to students and teaching. Exceptions are made, however, for students who are completely dependent on access to rooms for experiments and skills training, in order to avoid delays in their studies.

Individual stores may open, but shopping malls and department stores will still be closed.

Restaurants can reopen but cannot serve alcohol.

Libraries can open.

Children and young people can take part in sports and leisure activities.

Children and young people can have swimming training and swimming lessons.

Private visits inside homes are no longer discouraged.

A complete overview can be found on the government website here.

These are some of the areas to ease restrictions in “Ring 2”, (Asker, Bærum, Enebakk, Frogn, Indre Østfold, Lillestrøm, Lunner, Lørenskog, Moss, Nesodden, Nittedal, Rælingen, Vestby and Våler) from 3rd February:

Yellow level in schools and kindergartens in line with the national traffic light model.

For universities, colleges and vocational colleges, the premises are still closed to students and teaching. Exceptions are made, however, for students who are completely dependent on access to rooms for experiments and skills training, in order to avoid delays in their studies.

Individual stores may open, but shopping malls and department stores will still be closed.

Restaurants can reopen from Wednesday but not serve alcohol.

Organised sports and leisure activities for both children and adults allowed.

Gyms can stay open.

Libraries can stay open.

A complete overview can be found on the government website here.

These municipalities will come out of “Ring 2” restrictions:

Aurskog-Høland, Drammen, Horten, Lier, Marker, Rakkestad, Råde and Skiptvet.

For these municipalities, the national measures will apply.

“We have a better overview, but the situation is still uncertain. Infection tracking and follow-up in the affected municipalities will give us an even better overview in the coming days”, Høie said at the press conference.

The government has also allowed the municipalities to choose to have stricter measures than those proposed, if they see it as appropriate.

The press officer for the Nordre Follo municipality, Silje Stavik, told VG that for the time being, they do not wish to comment on whether they should introduce stricter measures than the other two “Ring 1” municipalities.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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