Delta Covid-19 variant likely to delay the final step in Norway’s reopening plan

Norway's prime minister and health minister have both admitted that the Delta variant of Covid-19 will probably push back the final step of Norway's reopening plan. 

Delta Covid-19 variant likely to delay the final step in Norway's reopening plan
Photo by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash

Health Minister Bent Høie has warned that the final step of Norway’s four-step plan to reopen the country and lift coronavirus measures will be pushed back due to concerns over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, which was first identified in India. 

The next step of Norway’s reopening plan was due to be assessed and potentially announced next week, but now the government will instead focus on making sure Norway doesn’t take a step back, rather than moving forward with the reopening plan. 

“Next week will mark three weeks since we moved to step three, but with the uncertainty associated with the Delta variant, my priority will be to avoid taking a step back in the reopening plan, rather than taking a step forward,” Høie told newspaper VG

Norway had, so far, taken a step in its exit plan roughly every three weeks. However, Norwegian PM Erna Solberg confessed that the government is concerned about the Delta variant. 

“We are a little afraid of the Delta variant, which will present a challenge when we have opened the borders as much as we have now, with plenty of Norwegians now travelling in and out of other countries,” she told the paper. 

Solberg also told the newspaper that while Norway would assess whether it will be suitable to take the final step, it’s essential to put the infection situation above any set dates when lifting measures.

“It is important that we place infection control considerations first,” she said. 

Neither the prime minister or health minister would offer any hints as to when the reopening could be delayed until. 

If you’d like a reminder of what measures will be lifted at each stage of Norway’s four-step plan, click here

The Director and Chief Executive of the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Bjørn Guldvog, echoed the views of the PM and health minister and said that it might be necessary to consider postponing step four of the reopening plan. 

“Data comes before dates. Any outbreaks will be difficult for municipalities to handle this summer,” Guldvog told VG. 

“It would be the right thing to do to assess whether introducing step four can be postponed somewhat,” Guldvog added. 

Member comments

  1. I have to say that I am so frustrated with the entry rules not being more relaxed! Many other countries are opening with successful results as more and more people are getting vaccinated but Norway is shut tight to people coming from countries that are doing so well. . I kept hearing from Norwegian officials “Oh, things will be much better in July and August” so I am scheduled to move to Norway on Aug 7 to start my new life with my partner who I have been apart for over a year. I am fully vaccinated, have my ticket I have given up my apartment and shipped my possessions, but with the hope of letting other countries like Canada in Norway’s list of countries now allowed it did not show my country of Canada. Heartbroken. With no apartment and an airline ticket, I pray that there is a bit more compassion with the next update of covid rules for romantic partners/boyfriend/girlfriend in North America.

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.