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Reader question: When will Norway relax its Covid border rules for partners outside the EEA? 

Norway relaxed its notoriously tight Covid-19 border restrictions so partners from the UK, the European Economic Area including the EU, can be reunited as a couple. Still, many readers are asking when rules stopping those outside the EEA from seeing their partners in Norway will be lifted?

Reader question: When will Norway relax its Covid border rules for partners outside the EEA? 
When will non-EEA citizens be able to visit Norway again? Photo by Iwan Shimko on Unsplash

Question: When will Norway open its borders to partners outside the EEA?

That’s a fair question, given that couples from within the European Economic Area (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) separated by coronavirus travel restrictions have been able to reunite for weeks now. 

What makes this incredibly frustrating for those outside the EEA is that the Norwegian government hasn’t addressed or spoken about when travel restrictions limiting travel to Norway from outside the EEA, with a few exceptions, which you can read about here, will end.

So when will Norway open its borders to non-EEA citizens wanting to reunite with their partner? 

Luckily, some non-EEA citizens can already travel to visit their partners. But, unfortunately, this only applies to travellers from the 12 countries on the Norwegian government’s list of “purple countries”. 

Purple countries are a select few countries from the EU’s third country list. Purple countries were introduced when the government finished harmonising its Covid country classification system with the EU’s thresholds for safe travel on July 5th. 

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

However, it is worth noting that not all countries on the EU’s third country list are classified as purple countries. Instead, the final decision on purple countries is made by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which updates its travel advice weekly. 

Currently, Australia, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, New Zealand, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, South Korea, Taiwan, the USA and Singapore are all purple countries. 

Be sure to stay up to date with the NIPH’s travel latest travel assessments and advice, which you can see here

Those travelling from purple countries to see their partner will need to take a test before arriving in Norway, test at the border once they have landed, fill out an entry registration form before they travel and then quarantine for a minimum of seven days at home or anywhere else with a private bedroom and bathroom. You can read more about the travel rules for purple countries here.

The couple will also need to have been together for at least nine months, met in person and fill out a free application with the Directorate of Immigration (UDI). You can take a look at the application here

What about those not from countries on the purple list 

This is a trickier question to answer, but our best guess would be that any travel restrictions for those outside the EEA will not be relaxed for at least a month, probably longer. 

This is for two reasons. Firstly, Norway has postponed the final phase of its four-step exit strategy to lift coronavirus restrictions until late July or early August due to fears that the Delta Covid variant, first identified in India, could spark another wave of infection in Norway. 

Therefore, it is unlikely the government would announce any significant easing of travel restrictions outside of its four-step strategy.

Secondly, the government has made a number of big changes to its travel rules recently, so it may want to wait and see how the recent changes to travel restrictions affect infection rates before easing the rules further.

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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.”