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COVID-19

Why have Norway’s quarantine hotel rules led to confusion and chaos? 

Confusion at the Norwegian border surrounding new quarantine hotel rules meant that some travellers were placed into the hotels despite being exempt.

Why have Norway's quarantine hotel rules led to confusion and chaos? 
A Boeing 737 landing at Oslo Gardermoen airport. Alan Wilson Flickr

On May 27th, new rules came into effect in Norway that meant travellers from the UK and EEA and Schengen countries with low enough Covid-19 infections would no longer have to enter quarantine hotels when arriving in Norway. 

Despite being exempt, many travellers were placed into quarantine hotels anyway by border police when going through border checks. 

“When I arrived at the border and talked to border police, they immediately said ‘you are going to a quarantine hotel’. It was no use talking to anyone there,” student Ingrid Edvardsen, who travelled from the UK to Norway under the new rules, told national newspaper VG.  

Border police have since apologised and said they were unaware of the rule change until late in the evening on the 28th, despite the change being announced on May 21st. 

“It is unfortunate if individuals were guided to quarantine hotels which they were not meant to be put into. We apologise if there have been any errors; it is not desirable on our part,” Elisabeth Rise, chief of staff at the National Police Directorate, said to the newspaper. 

Prior to the change, the government said that travellers from European countries that have fewer than 150 new infections per 100,000 people in the previous 14 days would no longer be required to enter a quarantine hotel. 

Infection requirements regarding quarantine hotels. Source: Regjeringen.no

However, some, like The Local’s Ingri Bergo, were placed into a quarantine hotel regardless. 

After arriving from France, Bergo was placed into a hotel. Despite France having an incidence rate of 98.7 per 100,000 before her arrival, the country is on the Norwegian Health Directorate’s list of countries with high incidence of the virus

This may be due in part to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s (NIPH) data on the incidence rate data for France being out of date. 

The NIPH doesn’t list any data on France past May 16th. 

Currently, only Malta, the UK, Portugal, Romania, Ireland and parts of Finland and Denmark are listed as exempt from quarantine hotels

Countries with low enough incidence numbers, such as Austria and Italy, to be exempt from quarantine hotel, as per the government’s requirements, are also included on the list of countries that still require quarantine hotel stay. 

READ ALSO: Can I enter Norway if I’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19? 

Those who have been placed in a quarantine hotel even though they are exempt have been advised to contact the municipality where the hotel is based. 

Some people who have wrongfully been put into the hotels have been released. Even then, some have encountered further problems. 

When Edvardsen was released from quarantine by Ullensaker municipality, she received a call not long after from infection trackers that had thought she’d absconded from the quarantine hotel. 

Failure to comply with quarantine can lead to fines of 20,000 kroner. 

Ullensaker municipality said that it does not plan on taking the matter with the student any further. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

All Covid travel rules for Norway have been completely lifted for a while now- but what happens if you test positive or start to develop Covid symptoms while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

Covid travel rules in Norway have been lifted for a while, and all but a few recommendations remain domestically. This is a far cry from a similar time last year when Norway had very strict travel rules in place. 

Testing

Close contacts of Covid infected are not required to get a test, meaning if you have been in contact with somebody with Covid-19, you will not be required to get tested under the official rules. 

However, if you wish to take a test, you can buy self-tests at supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also order Covid-19 tests from Norwegian municipalities if you want a PCR test. You can find the contact information for every municipality in Norway here. Facemasks are also widely available in shops and pharmacies. 

Several private providers, such as Volvat and Dr Dropin, offer antigen and PCR tests with results within 24 hours. However, municipality tests can take longer to deliver results. If you need a test to travel home, you will not be able to get one from a local authority. These tests are only for those with symptoms of Covid-19.  

Home tests will not cost more than 60 kroner from supermarkets, while a municipality test will be free. However, private providers’ tests are pricier, costing between 1,000 and 1,500 kroner at most private clinics.

Isolation

There are also no specific rules in regards to isolation. 

“If you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until you feel well. If you feel well, you can live as normal,” Helsenorge advises on its websiteMeaning that if you are asymptomatic, you aren’t advised to isolate. 

Other symptoms which you may need to isolate with include headache and blocked nose and influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and feeling unwell. 

The isolation information means you will need to liaise with the hotel or accommodation you are staying at. 

Travellers are advised to check what their insurance covers before taking out a policy to avoid being left out of pocket if they have to pay for new flights or an extended stay because they are isolating. 

If you test positive, you are also advised to steer clear of those in risk groups. 

Self-isolation advice applies regardless of vaccination status or previous infection. 

What else should I know? 

If your symptoms get worse, the best course of practice would be to contact a standard GP.

You can also contact the out-of-hours urgent care number on 116 117. This will put you through to the nearest urgent care centre to you. Visitors can also call for an ambulance on 113, but this is only advisable in life-threatening situations, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.

In addition to checking your insurance policy, you also will need to check the rules of the country you are returning to or travelling through in case you may need a test to enter. 

If you have an EHIC card and receive medical care after testing positive for Covid-19, you will only be required to pay the same subsidised fees Norwegians do for healthcare. Despite this, European citizens are also advised to take out travel insurance. 

Non-European visitors are entitled to urgent medical care but will need to pay the full cost with no prospect of reimbursement if they don’t have health insurance. 

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