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COVID-19 RULES

IN BRIEF: Norway’s new national Covid-19 measures

Norway’s government on Tuesday announced new measures aimed at hindering Covid-19 transmissions. The key changes relate to quarantine rules and face mask guidelines.

Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre on November 30th announced new measures aimed at reducing transmission of Covdi-19 in the Nordic country.
Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre on November 30th announced new measures aimed at reducing transmission of Covdi-19 in the Nordic country. File photo: HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP

The measures announced include more stringent isolation rules, face mask recommendations and a push to vaccinate over 65s with booster jabs as soon as possible.

“The pandemic is not over but it is in a new phase. We must learn to live with the virus. Because we have vaccines, we can now cope with more infections in society,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a statement.

“On one side, we must avoid full hospitals and strain on the health system. On the other side we must live as normally as possible. We must keep finding the right balance in the measures,” Støre added.

The government has chosen to increase the level of measures in response to increased infections placing strain on health and care services at hospitals and in the community, it said in the statement.

Two new rules relating to isolation are introduced along with guidelines, which are not enforceable, for the use of face masks.

Rules

People who live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 must now quarantine until they test negative for the virus, according to the new rules. This applies to all adults regardless of vaccination status. For children, it is a recommendation rather than a requirement.

The test must be taken after seven days at the earliest. Unvaccinated people are required to test daily with antigen tests or every other day with PCR tests during the seven-day interval.

People who test positive for Covid-19 must now isolate for five days regardless of vaccination status, and must have been fever-free for 48 hours before leaving quarantine.

Until now, isolation requirements were minimum two days for vaccinated people without symptoms following a positive Covid-19 test.

Recommendations

Face masks are now recommended on public transport and in taxis, as well as in stores and shopping centres. These recommendations only apply when it is not possible to keep a social distance, however.

Masks are also recommended in health service settings.

Municipalities in which the local incidence of Covid-19 is high should now consider asking their residents to return to working from home, according to the new recommendations.

A recommendation for regular testing at schools in areas with high transmission and high strain on health and care services is meanwhile extended.

The new rules and recommendations follow a tightening of isolation rules announced by the government on Monday, in response to the emergence of the new Omicron variant.

READ ALSO: Norway announces tighter Covid-19 isolation rules for suspected Omicron cases

In addition to the new restrictions and guidelines, the government has taken steps to speed up its vaccination and booster programme.

These include requiring municipalities to offer vaccinations without prior appointment, and outside of regular working hours.

“Several municipalities have good and creative solutions to make it easier for people to get vaccinated. There will now be regulations to ensure vaccination is as accessible as possible,” Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said in the statement.

Municipalities are asked to offer booster jabs to everyone over the age of 45 once all over-65s have been offered boosters.

All people who work on the health and care sectors will also be offered boosters.

The government aims to have offered the entire adult population a booster by Easter 2022, it said in the statement. That means municipalities must plan to administer up to 400,000 doses per week in total.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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