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EXPLAINED: Could the US be classified as green under Norway’s Covid border rules? 

Norway has made some big changes to its entry rules and restrictions as part of a shakeup to its Covid country classification system. But could the US be classified as green, meaning quarantine free entry for all arrivals, and what would it take? Here’s what you need to know. 

EXPLAINED: Could the US be classified as green under Norway’s Covid border rules? 
Could the US become a green country. Photo by Oskar Kadaksoo on Unsplash

On July 5th, Norway finished harmonising its Covid classification system with EU thresholds, opening up the country to more and more travellers.

The new system meant that more countries were classified as green, meaning infections are low enough to allow safe entry free quarantine into Norway, than ever before. 

The shakeup also saw a list of “purple” countries introduced. Purple countries are a select few countries from the EU’s third country list. Partners and close family can travel to Norway to visit from purple countries, in addition to residents and citizens of Norway. 

Arrivals from purple countries are still subject to strict entry requirements though such as testing before travel, testing at the border, entry registration and a seven-day minimum quarantine period. You can read about the entry requirements for purple countries here

The US, along with 11 other countries, is currently on Norway’s purple list. You can check out the purple list here

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

But, could Norway classify the US as green and open up for quarantine free travel to all arrivals from the states? 

Could the US be classified as a green country? 

The threshold to be classed as a green country is to have less than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 over the past 14 days, with than less than four percent of all tests coming back as positive, or an incidence rate of 75 infections over the same period but with only one percent of those tested returning positive samples. 

If you’d like to have a look at Norway’s other travel thresholds, you can do so here

The US’s 14-day incidence rate is currently 56 infections per 100,000, according to DataUSA

Unfortunately for those eager to travel to Norway from the US, it still wouldn’t be classified as green even if it fell below the threshold. 

This is because only countries within the European Economic Area, or EEA (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), and the UK, can be classified as green in Norway. 

This is since Norway gets the infection data it uses to assess travel rules from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) information on countries within the EU and EEA.

However, while this means that Norway will not classify the US as green, it doesn’t mean that Norway can’t one day treat the US the same as a green country. 

Could the US be treated the same as a green country? 

Technically yes, but it may take some time for the US to be treated as a green country. 

For the US to be treated as a green country, Norway would likely be required to relax the entry rules for the whole purple list, rather than adding a new subcategory just for the US.

This is unlikely to happen anytime soon for several reasons. 

Firstly, infections in all purple countries will need to continually trend downwards and probably remain below the threshold for green countries for a decent amount of time before Norway would consider easing the rules for purple countries. 

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

And thirdly, 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 its four-step strategy.

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NORWEGIAN CITIZENSHIP

Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport 

The public has been warned by the Norwegian Police Directorate, which issues travel documents, to not book any foreign holidays without a valid passport due to long waiting times for travel documents.

Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport 

Due to long waiting times, the public has been cautioned against making holiday plans without a valid Norwegian passport as travel documents may not arrive in time for the trip. 

“We would strongly encourage people to wait to book a holiday abroad before they know that they have their travel documents in order,” Bjørn Vandvik from the Norwegian Police Directorate said in a statement on Wednesday

Previously the police said that those travelling within the EEA this summer should instead order a national ID card which allows for travel within the Schengen area because that form of travel documentation was subject to shorter waiting times. 

Those wishing to travel during fellesferie, the collective holiday period in Norway, have been advised to order new travel documents by the end of May or the beginning of June at the latest. 

Despite the measures put in place by the police to try and ensure that supply meets demand, waiting lists are growing longer, and the authorities don’t expect the backlog to be cleared until the autumn.

The current waiting time for passports is around seven weeks. However, the police have said they expect this to increase to 10 weeks by July. 

READ MORE: How do Norway’s slow passport processing times compare to Denmark and Sweden?

So far this year, the police have received 560,40 passport applications. In contrast, the police registered 270,000 applications in 2019. 

A mixture of the pandemic and war in Ukraine has made getting the materials used to produce national ID cards and passports more difficult.

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