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What changes about life in Norway in May 2021?

From new speed limits, the introduction of "corona certificates", Covid-19 restrictions being eased, and more, here's everything you need to know about what's happening in Norway during May.

What changes about life in Norway in May 2021?
A boat of the coast of Trømso, northern Norway. Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash

Step two of the reopening plan

Health Minister Bent Høie expects Norway to begin the second phase of its four-step plan to reopen society in May.

“If everything goes as we hope, we will take the second step in the second half of May”, he said at a government press conference.

The health minister stressed that for step two to be given the green light, infection numbers would have to remain stable.

Step two would see the number of guests allowed to visit homes double, a relaxation of alcohol rules in hospitality settings and a loosening of entry restrictions.

You can read more about step two here.

Corona certificates

A simplified version of the government’s corona certificate or vaccine passport will be issued in May.

The certificate will show a person’s vaccination status, test results and any immunity to the virus from antibodies.

Despite certificates being issued, the government still hasn’t outlined how they will be used.

“The use of the certificate has not been specified, neither nationally nor with a view in relation to entry into Norway from abroad,” Høie said at a government press conference.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health will assess how the corona certificates can be utilised and will make a recommendation on how the certificates should be implemented to the government.

The final version of the certificate will be ready by the end of June. It will launch alongside the EU’s coronavirus passports.

“From the Norwegian side, we have emphasised that a coordinated European approach to the design of corona certificates can contribute to a safe reopening in Europe,” Høie said.

Tax returns for the self-employed

Self-employed people and business owners will have until the end of May to submit their tax returns for 2020.

The partially pre-filled tax return form has already been issued and is accessed electronically via the Skatteetaten website.

 You can also use this deduction tool to see what you can add to your deductibles.

Potential easing of travel restrictions

Strict restrictions on travel into Norway first introduced in January are currently in place until May 12th.

The restrictions limit entry to a very small group outside of Norwegian residents and citizens.

If the measures are not extended, then entry requirements could be eased in May in line with the country’s plan to alleviate coronavirus restrictions.

READ MORE: When will I be able to travel to and from Norway again 

The second phase of reopening, which could get given the go-ahead in the second half of May, includes potential for partners and family to enter and the resumption of business travel.

The advice to not travel abroad on “unnecessary trips'”such as holidays is likely to remain, as is quarantine hotels for those returning from these trips and mandatory testing at the border for everyone.

New speed limits at sea come into force on May 15th

Boating is a popular activity in Norway and over 30 percent of Norwegians have access to a boat.

Norwegian speed limits on water will change in May, and you will no longer be allowed to go faster than five knots if you are less than 50 meters from people who are swimming or buoys.

The new regulations also require drivers of all types of seafaring vessels to adjust their speed to the conditions at sea.

Boat owners are being encouraged by the Ministry of Transport to download Båtfart, which the Norwegian Coastal Administration developed. The app will notify you of the speed limit wherever you are when at sea.

AstraZeneca decision

Norway will make its final decision on whether it will scrap the use of AstraZeneca on May 10th.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has already recommended that the vaccine be shelved.

An expert committee will weigh up the pros and cons of using the Anglo-Swedish vaccine in Norway’s vaccine program and deliver it.

The committee will also look at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, which had its rollout in Europe delayed due to concerns over blood clots. Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are based on the same technology.

AstraZeneca has been on hold in Norway since March 11th due to suspected severe side effects, including blood clots and low platelet counts.

Five patients have been admitted to Oslo University Hospital (OUS) with severe blood clots after taking the vaccine. Three of them have died.

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COVID-19

What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?

Norway's government have updated the country's self-isolation rules a few time in recent weeks. The latest changes mean less people will have to quarantine after being identified as a close contact.

Pictured is a house in Drøbak, south-eastern Norway.
These are the rules for self-isolation in Norway. Pictured is a house in Drøbak, south-eastern Norway. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

From Friday, January 14th, Norway’s self-isolation rules will change, and far fewer people will be required to quarantine as a result. 

“In the next few months, many will be infected, and sickness absence will be high. All companies and businesses need to prepare for it. Plans must be made to maintain the most normal operation possible in a demanding situation. The changes the government is now making in the requirements for infection quarantine will contribute to more people being able to live normally, even though there is a lot of infection in society,” Ingvil Kjerkol, health minister, said of the new rules in a government announcement.

Does the Covid variant affect the self-isolation period? 

The quarantine rules and length of time you need to self-isolate for will not change depending on which variant of Covid-19 you contract. 

Who has to quarantine? 

For obvious reasons, those who test positive for Covid-19 will be required to self-isolate. After that, those who share a household with the infected person, including flatmates who share a common kitchen and bathroom, will also need to quarantine themselves.

However, under the new rules, other close contacts will not need to self-isolate after coming into contact with somebody infected with Covid. Instead, they are asked to take tests on day’s 3 and 5 after being identified as a close contact. Furthermore, they will need to watch for symptoms for ten days and begin isolating if any signs or symptoms appear. 

Anyone who has spent more than 15 minutes and within two metres of somebody who tests positive for Covid is considered a close contact. 

Close contacts are typically friends, colleagues or classmates. However, contact tracing services will also consider those sitting nearby in restaurants and the like as close contacts. This applies regardless of vaccination status. 

READ ALSO: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas?

How long is the isolation period? 

People who return a positive coronavirus test will need to quarantine themselves for six days starting from when they tested positive. The isolation will be a minimum of six days but will not end until the person has been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine. 

Household members and partners will need to isolate themselves before testing after seven days. 

As mentioned earlier, other close contacts are no longer required to quarantine. 

If the test returns positive, then the quarantine rules will apply for those infected with the virus. 

What are the rules in quarantine? 

You will need to stay at home and only perform necessary errands that others can not do. This means you can’t go to work and you need to avoid public transport. 

You can go for a walk, but you need to distance yourself from others. 

You will also need to social distance at home, stay in a separate room and use a different bathroom if possible. You are also encouraged to frequently clean surfaces that are often touched. 

Is anybody exempt? 

There is no exemption from self-isolating as a household member or close contact if you are vaccinated. However, some groups are exempt. 

Everyone who has had Covid-19 in the previous three months can skip the isolation period. The same goes for those who have received a booster vaccine dose at least a week before coming into contact with someone with Covid. Instead, they will need to test themselves each day with a rapid home test or a PCR test carried out by a health professional every other day for seven days. 

Employees who have essential societal functions are not required to isolate, provided they test negative before starting work throughout the isolation period. 

Close contacts under 18 years of age will not need to isolate but are recommended to test for Covid-19.

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