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Norway eases Covid hotel quarantine rules

Certain travellers to Norway, including those vaccinated in the country will no longer have to spend time in quarantine hotels after the government announced changes to the tight rules on Wednesday.

Norway eases Covid hotel quarantine rules
A Boeing 737 landing at Oslo Gardermoen airport. Alan Wilson Flickr

Anyone who has received their first coronavirus jab in Norway, at least three weeks before their arrival, and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the country in the last six months will not be forced into quarantine hotels when they arrive in Norway.

These travellers will still have to spend time in quarantine, but they can do it at their home address or the address they provide Norwegian authorities.

Health Minister Bent Høie made the announcement at a government press conference on Wednesday afternoon. 

Travellers arriving in Norway who were vaccinated in foreign countries will still have to enter quarantine hotels.

READ MORE: ‘My arguments didn’t matter’: How I ended up in hotel quarantine in Norway 

Health Minister, Høie, said that the government was working on a system whereby Norwegian citizens vaccinated abroad would also no longer have to quarantine in a hotel.

“We are working on a system where Norwegians who have been vaccinated abroad can have their status registered in Norway,” Høie said at the press conference. 

It was not clear when Norway would have in a system in place for foreigners vaccinated abroad to be able to skip hotel quarantine, however it will likely be linked to the launch of the EU’s vaccine passport in July. 

READ MORE: What’s the latest on how the EU’s ‘Covid passports’ will work for travellers? 

The health minister also could not offer any concrete details on whether those who are vaccinated would be able to enter the country without having to quarantine at all in the future – even at home, but he hinted that it could happen. 

“The Norwegian Directorate of Health and Norwegian Institute of Public Health have recommended that it is too early to lift the entry quarantine for vaccinated people. There may be changes, and it could happen relatively quickly,” Høie said at the conference. 

Children will not be included in the scheme, meaning vaccinated adults with children not old enough to stay on their own will have to remain in the hotels, VG have reported.

The new regulations come into effect on Thursday, June 3rd.

The changes also mean those travellers who fit the above criteria who are already in quarantine hotels, will be able to leave and continue the quarantine period at home. 

Travellers who have recovered from Covid will have to prove it digitally via the preliminary corona certificate on helsenorge.no, state broadcaster NRK reported. 

Norway’s preliminary Covid-19 certificate. Source: helsenorge.no

Høie said he understood the frustrations of vaccinated travellers that have been placed into hotels thus far but argued that it has been necessary. 

“It has been necessary to ensure that those who say they have been vaccinated have been,” he said. 

The scheme will be in place until Norway’s full “coronavirus certificate” is released on June 11th.

“Many are excited about how the corona certificate will look and what we can use it for,” Høie said.

Høie also added that the full certificate would grant access to large events in Norway over the summer. 

The full certificate will use verifiable QR codes and will glow green when scanned if you are vaccinated or received a recent negative coronavirus test. 

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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

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