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COVID-19

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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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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