These are Norway’s Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays

The Norwegian government on Friday outlined its Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays and announced it will reintroduce mandatory quarantine hotel stays for those taking unnecessary trips out of the country.

These are Norway’s Covid-19 guidelines for the Easter holidays
Photo: Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

The recommendations are based on assessments and input from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the National Institute of Public Health, and outline advice for travel and socializing during the Easter Holidays.

“The infection situation in Norway is unstable, and in recent weeks the infection numbers have risen. We are concerned about the consequences if many travel and meet other people at Easter,” health minister Bent Høie said in a Ministry of Health statement.

During the Easter holidays, many people are on annual leave and travel across Norway to stay at their country homes or cabins, visit family and go on skiing holidays.

Unlike last year, when it was banned, people will be able to travel to their country homes, often cabins in the mountains near ski resorts.

While the recommendations are a lot more lenient than last year the government has said that it will tighten restrictions at short notice if needed.

The recommendations have urged people to take extra care when travelling. The government recommends people do their shopping before they arrive where they are staying and to avoid public transport.

They are also recommending that people stick to outdoor activities and to limit their social contacts to 10 per week and have a maximum of five visitors at their homes. 

“We recommend that everyone has fewer contacts than usual and that meeting (socially) and activities take place as much as possible outside,” Høie said.

The government also recommends that cabins don’t mix, and is advising against overnight visits.

People coming from areas where the local restrictions and recommendations are stricter than where they are travelling to are advised to try and follow the more stringent set of rules.

Hotel and resort trips are also still allowed but people from areas with infection rates, such as Oslo, are asked to not travel to hotels where many people are staying. 

Authorities are also requesting people avoid spending large amounts of time in common areas of hotels like bars or lobbies.

Meanwhile, justice minister Monica Mæland has announced that everyone returning from “unnecessary leisure trips” from abroad must quarantine at a hotel until they provide a negative test.

The earliest people staying in quarantine hotels can leave would be on day three of the quarantine.

That represents a reversal of an earlier decision to ease hotel quarantine rules, which has allowed people to quarantine in homes or private accommodations since December.

READ ALSO: Could Norway further tighten travel restrictions?

There will be some exceptions to the rule. Those on strictly necessary journeys based for welfare-related reasons, people travelling to take care of sick family members or funerals and children travelling to see parents.

For those making journeys exempt from the new restrictions the current rules of being able to quarantine at home apply.

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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