Norway to ease Covid-19 travel rules in phased plan

The government on Friday announced a phased plan to lift the Norway's entry and travel rules and reopen its borders to visitors. 

Norway to ease Covid-19 travel rules in phased plan
An airport departure board. Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Norway will begin the first phase of its strategy to reopen the country for restriction-free travel at noon on Saturday.

“We have lived a long time with strict measures at the borders. This has been important in combating imported infections. When we now move on to a normal everyday life, the government proposes a gradual reduction of the restrictions on entry into the country. This will take place under close supervision,” Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Monica Mæland said in a statement

Entry restrictions for residents and citizens from EU, EEA  (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), purple list countries and the UK would be lifted. Anyone from these countries will be allowed to enter Norway.

Previously, entry has been restricted to residents and citizens of Norway, the close family and partners of those living in Norway, EU and UK vaccine pass holders and those from “green countries”.

You can read about Norway’s Covid country colour classification system here but broadly, green countries are areas with low enough levels of infection to allow entry into Norway

Mandatory quarantine hotels will be scrapped but will remain an option for anybody who can’t quarantine somewhere with their own bedroom, bathroom, and facilities to make food. 

READ ALSO: Norwegian government announces lifting of final Covid-19 measures

Additonally, travellers from orange countries on Norway’s travel map will no longer have to quarantine. Those arriving from red, dark red, purple and grey countries would still need to quarantine. However, quarantine will be terminated after returning a negative PCR test taken after day three. 

Children under 18 will also no longer have to quarantine, although they will be obliged to test at the border if they arrive from a high-infection area. Testing after three days won’t be mandatory but will be recommended. 

Testing before travelling to Norway will also be revoked, and the requirement for those coming from green and orange countries to test at the border will be removed. 

Border crossings that have been closed will also begin to reopen once they have sufficient test capacity. 

The remaining travel restrictions would be lifted across two more phases, for which the government provided some of the early details but did not specify dates. 

Phase two would see entry restrictions lifted for all the countries on the EU’s third country list. EU third countries are areas that are not in the EU or do not share the bloc’s freedom of movement. Essentially this is the rest of the world. 

Quarantine would be removed for all EEA and Schengen countries before the rules are relaxed for everywhere else. In addition, the rules for testing would also be looked at, and the entry registration system will be reviewed. 

During phase three, the government will take another look at entry and quarantine rules. Travel testing would also be faced out, but with the option to reintroduce it if necessary. You can read the complete list of proposed restrictions and potential changes here

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SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

More than 3,700 flights where cancelled and 380,000 passengers where affected by the 15-day strike which hit Scandinavia's SAS airline last month, the company has revealed.

SAS strike affected 380,000 passengers in July

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected by the July strike,” Anko van der Werff, the company’s chief executive, said in a press release. “We are happy operations returned to normality again allowing us to start regaining our customers’ trust.”

According to the release, 1.3 million passengers travelled with the airline in July, which was still a 23 percent increase on the same month last year, when Covid-19 restrictions were still reducing tourism levels.

“In comparison with last month, the total number of passengers decreased with 32 percent and capacity was decreased by 23 percent, which was a result from the 15-day pilot strike,” the release read. 

Pilot unions in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, went on strike for 15 days last month over pay, conditions, and the company’s refusal to rehire pilots laid off during the Covid-19 pandemic on the same terms as before. 

The strike, which cost the airline between €9m and €12m a day, was ended on July 19th, after which it took several days to get flights back to normal

Van der Werff said company said it would now continue putting in place its restructuring plan, SAS FORWARD, and push ahead with restructuring in the US, where the company has filed for Chapter 11. 

He said these would both “accelerate the transformation process that will lead to a financially stable airline, that will be able to deliver the service our customers are expecting”.