Norway to retain Covid-19 travel restrictions as infection rate increases

A file photo showing SAS aircraft on the tarmac at Oslo Gardermoen Airport. Norway will keep its existing Covid-19 entry restrictions until the end of 2021, its health minister said on Thursday.
Photo: Hakon Mosvold Larsen / SCANPIX NORWAY / AFP
Norwegian health minister Ingvild Kjerkol confirmed on Thursday that the country will continue existing entry restrictions in the midst of an increasing trend of Covid-19 infections. New domestic restrictions will not be reintroduced at the current time.

Covid-19 infections are increasing nationally in Norway, with the most recent daily total of 1,180 significantly above the seven-day average of 721.

“The government has decided to retain several corona measures which were assessed removable. The current system of downgraded TISK [testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine, ed.] should have been lifted now according to the plan, but will be continued for the rest of the year,” Kjerkol said at a briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Isolation requirements for people who test positive for Covid-19 are also extended.

The current infection situation in Norway is manageable despite the increasing trend, the minister said at the briefing. Hospitalisations remain low, while health authorities will closely follow the strain on the health service, she said.

101 people are currently admitted to hospitals nationally with the coronavirus.

“We are not just concerned with how many people are admitted to intensive care at the big hospitals, we are also concerned with the situation in small district municipalities which have smaller and more vulnerable health services than in the small towns,” Kjerkol said.

A phased plan to ease Covid-19 travel rules was presented in late September.

The first stage of the plan was implemented on September 26th, ending most entry restrictions for residents and citizens from EU, EEA  (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), purple list countries and the UK.

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

A guide to quarantine and testing rules for arrival in Norway from abroad is available on the Norwegian Directorate of Health website.

The remaining travel restrictions are to be lifted across two more phases, for which the previous government provided some detail but did not specify dates. 

READ ALSO: Norway to ease Covid-19 travel rules in phased plan

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, but that the EU considers to be “safe” for travel.

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.

But the introduction of those phases is on hold after Kjerkol’s statement on Thursday.

The health minister meanwhile ruled out nationwide restrictions at the current time, after saying in a written statement earlier this week that such restrictions “could be relevant”.

“We are prepared to reach for our tools if it is necessary,” she said, but confirmed national restrictions would not be brought in at the current time.

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  1. Totally illogical restrictions with some countries (irrespective of the infection rate) allowed entry even for tourism and others not allowed to enter even for essential purposes. No data driven opening and no effective use of quarantine. Was expecting the new government to look at it differently and to have a fair system but totally disappointed.

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