Norway postpones full easing of Covid-19 measures

The Norwegian government has delayed the final phase of its four-step strategy for easing coronavirus restrictions and returning to normal life, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced on Monday.

Norway postpones full easing of Covid-19 measures
Bergen's world famous habour. Photo by Kaitlyn Collins on Unsplash

Step four of the government’s reopening strategy has been pushed back until late July or early August, PM Erna Solberg announced at a government press conference.

“The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) recommend that we do not proceed to step four now. The next step can go ahead no earlier than the end of July or beginning of August,” Solberg said at the press conference. 

The decision to delay the reopening comes after both the PM and her health minister, Bent Høie, warned last week that concerns over the Delta Covid-19 variant, which was first identified in India, could put the breaks on the reopening plan. 

“We have chosen to wait and see how the Delta variant affects the infection situation,” Solberg said at the press conference.

Step four was due to be the final step of the government’s strategy to lift coronavirus measures and reopen society.

Reopening too quickly would raise the risk “that the Delta variant could create a fourth wave in the part of the population that is not vaccinated, in groups who have received only one dose and in vulnerable groups with weakened immune systems,” Solberg said.

Solberg also said that the government will still lift some measures later this week, even though step four has been pushed back.

READ ALSO: IN DETAIL: Norway announces major Covid-19 travel rules shakeup

From July 8th, the number of people allowed at mass events where the Norwegian Covid-19 certificate is required to attend will be increased from 5,000 to 7,000.

“When we use a corona certificate, the risk of outbreaks is lower. These changes will make it easier to carry out festivals and events this summer safely,” Solberg said. 

Outdoors up to 7,000 people, in groups of 500, will be able to attend events where there is fixed designated seating and the venue is below 50 percent capacity. Up to 3,000 people can be in attendance where there isn’t a set seating plan in place. 

Indoors up to 3,000, in groups of 500, can gather provided there are assigned seats, and the premises are operating below half of their capacity. When a seating plan isn’t being used, only 1,500 people can gather in three groups of 500. 

The restriction on venues admitting guests onto their premises past midnight will also be removed, and social distancing between guests at home has been scrapped for those who have had a vaccine jab, or Covid-19 in the last six months unless somebody who is unvaccinated and belonging to a risk group is present.

In addition to this, it was announced that the Norwegian government would be assessing whether it will offer coronavirus vaccines to 16 and 17 year-olds in the autumn. 

“There are few young people who become seriously ill from the coronavirus, but there is more infection among 16-17- year-olds than in other young people and children,” Margrethe Greve-Isdahl, a senior physician with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), said in a statement

The government will decide whether it will vaccinate 16-17 year-olds in September. If the government does decide to vaccinate 16 and 17 year-olds, the earliest it will do so is October. 

The government also announced that it would also reopen the borders to business travellers from the European Economic Area (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) towards the end of July.

The new entry restrictions for business travellers would also apply to those that are self-employed. The partners and families of working EEA citizens working in Norway would also be allowed to visit too. Partners will likely have to fill out a free application with the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI), however this has not been confirmed yet. 

EEA citizens from “purple countries“, a select few countries from the EU’s third country list, would be able to travel to Norway for business.

The government said it had not yet a solid date for when this would happen.

Member comments

  1. There are updates coming in for EU and few other countries, but, uncertainty continues on other countries. There is absolutely no updates on what to expect. With schools reopening in mid Aug, it would be appreciated if Norway considers other categories as well.

  2. What Norway does is beyond discrimination. What about the couples ? they did not open for the non-eu citizen partners. What is their motivation really? it is just bullshit.

    1. I agree! I was in the midst of moving to Norway to be with my partner who I haven’t seen for over a year. I am in Canada and we are doing so well covid. I have both my vaccinations, have given up my apartment because a Norwegian official said to me on the phone and I quote “you would be best to do your move at the beginning of August. So that’s what I did and have a ticket to fly in from Toronto on August 6th. Now this garbage about closing up again is life-changing for me. No apartment, belongings on the way, and no way to be with my partner. I am beyond angry! Discrimination for sure!!

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”