Travel to and from Norway could resume ‘near the end of May’

Travel to and from Norway could resume 'near the end of May'
Illustration photo: Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP
A senior official from the Norwegian Directorate of Public Health (NIPH) has expressed optimism over the return of travel before the end of the spring.

Residents over the age of 45 years in Norway will have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine by May, according to the current schedule for vaccination.

That would provide for a safe easing of the country’s travel restrictions, Geir Bukholm, director of infection control with the health authority, told newspaper VG.

“I would assume that we can begin to ease (restrictions) when risk groups have been vaccinated,” Bukholm told the newspaper.

That means at least one dose being given to everyone over the age of 45, a stage which will have been reached during May, VG writes.

“It will gradually be possible to open the borders and have normal tourist traffic. And everything related to social meetings. That could happen at the end of May, although I cannot be completely sure about it,” Bukholm said.

Norway’s vaccination programme is currently progressing relatively slowly, although the country has distributed roughly the same number of vaccines per hundred inhabitants as most EU countries, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The Nordic country is a participant in the EU’s procurement scheme for Covid-19 vaccines.

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“We will get a lot of supplies in May and June. It is an almost exponential increase. From having vaccinated a relatively small proportion, we’ll have vaccinated almost everyone, in the space of two months,” Bukholm said, adding that it “looks like (vaccine suppliers) Pfizer and AstraZeneca are delivering as planned”.

The NIPH is currently working with the Norwegian Directorate of Health on a plan for reopening, which is expected to be handed to the government later this month.

Optimism about a timescale for reopening should be tempered by the possibilities of potential delays related to various factors, Bukholm also noted.

“There are many factors we don’t have control of: we don’t know the effect of virus variants going forward, for example. If we relax too early and allow the epidemic to run wild, we’ll get a lot of sick people in the group down to 45 years,” he said.

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