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COVID-19

Why is Norway’s domestic Covid-19 certificate not yet in effect? 

The return of Norway's domestic Covid-19 certificate to combat rising infection in the country was announced nearly two weeks ago. However, it could still be weeks before it is fully implemented. 

Crowds of people on Karl Johan street.
Technical issues and a change in requirements are holding up the domestic Covid-19 certificate. Pictured is Karl Johan street. Photo by Nick Night on Unsplash

The Covid-19 certificate was touted by the government as a tool for combatting rising infections in areas seeing a spike in coronavirus cases and for avoiding stricter national measures and lockdowns. 

The government said the decision and powers to implement and use the certificate would be made at a local level. The health pass is to be used to access events and leisure and hospitality settings. 

What’s causing the delays? 

Two reasons for the delays have been reported. Firstly, the government needed to get regulations in place, giving local authorities the power to use the certificate. This has been solved, meaning that municipalities can implement the Covid-19 certificate if they wish. 

However, the country’s health authorities, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) are still working on adapting the domestic Covid-19 certificate for use. 

The country’s Covid-19 certificate was previously split into two parts, one for travel abroad and one for domestic use.

Since October, the domestic Covid-19 certificate has been unavailable on Norway’s digital health portal Helsenorge, which is where the Covid-19 certificate and vaccination information is stored. 

The certificate needs adapting because the rules on who is eligible have changed. 

“It is first and foremost changes in criteria for what should give a valid certificate which means that we can not directly reuse the current control app that verifies the QR code,” Gun Peggy Knudsen, assistant director of the NIPH, said, explaining the delays to public broadcaster NRK

People who have been fully vaccinated, recovered from Covid in the previous 12 months and tested negative for the virus in the last 48 hours will be able to use the pass. Previously the certificate was also available to those who had received only the first dose of a vaccination.  

READ ALSO: These are the new rules for Norway’s domestic Covid-19 certificate

How long until the certificates are available? 

Knudsen said several solutions were being looked at to implement the certificate as quickly as possible. 

“In the short term, we are working to provide guidance on how the current solution can be adapted for use by municipalities that want to introduce a corona certificate,” she told NRK

She has suggested using the travel Covid-19 certificate in place of the domestic one as a temporary solution. 

“If you want something up and running very quickly, you can use the EU-control page that is already there,” she said. 

However, Knudsen has reiterated that the domestic Covid-19 certificate was preferable because it showed less information, protected users’ privacy and data, and used colour codes that made the certificate easy to use. 

This solution could potentially take weeks to be ready for use again in Norway. 

Knudsen said the government was also working on a solution for non-digital users and people without a Norwegian identification number or D-number. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

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.”

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