Could Norway further tighten travel restrictions?

Could Norway further tighten travel restrictions?
File photo: Christof STACHE / AFP
Although Norway de facto closed its borders in January, justice minister Monica Mæland believes Norwegians are still travelling too much and says the government could consider even tighter rules.

Many people are still many flying in and out of Norway despite advice to avoid travel, Mæland said in an interview with broadcaster NRK.

Since January 29th, when the latest measures were introduced, over 40,000 people have travelled abroad in the five weeks since the border closed, according to figures obtained by NRK from airport operator Avinor.

“I think the numbers are high, given how strict (restrictions) are. We also see that the majority of those who travel in and out are people who live in Norway,” Mæland said.

She is urging people not to travel out of the country for leisure and is asking people to think about whether any planned trips out of the country are necessary at the current time.

Travelling to visit and take care of sick relatives, for example, is considered a necessary reason to travel according to the justice minister.

Under current restrictions, everyone who arrives in Norway via air travel is tested with a rapid Covid-19 test, which takes between 15-20 minutes to deliver a result.  

They will then have to quarantine for 10 days either at home or a quarantine hotel.

READ ALSO: Norway tightens Covid-19 quarantine rules for incoming travel

Just under one percent of the rapid tests at airports are positive, Peder Anker, medical manager at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport, told NRK.

Passengers are also required to complete a registration form prior to crossing the border, which has to be presented to border control.

Foreign travelers must also present a negative test taken less than 24 hours before entry.

Those who already live in Norway, citizens, children under 12 and people who have had Covid-19 in the previous 6 months (confirmed with a valid lab test), or those who travel between Sweden or Finland regularly for work or study, and health care workers are exempt.

Those arriving from Great Britain, South Africa, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Brazil are subject to additional rules, such as taking a more thorough Covid test. 

This, however, could change under new rules where everyone would have to stay at a quarantine hotel regardless of whether they are a resident or a citizen.

“To ensure that the quarantine is maintained, we can do so by ensuring that everyone who has traveled and defied the travel advice, must go to a quarantine hotel. This is something we consider essential to be completely confident that quarantine is properly carried out”, Mæland said.

A requirement for all quarantine to take place at hotels could potentially be brought in to ensure quarantine is properly observed, according to that suggestion.

That would represent a draw back on a previous decision by Norwegian authorities to ease rules on where entry quarantine can be observed.

In December, the government said that travellers arriving in Norway would have the option of spending 10-day quarantine period at alternative locations to the country’s ‘quarantine hotels’, if they are able to secure suitable accommodation


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