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Should I cancel my trip to Norway this Christmas? 

Many will have booked trips to spend the holidays with their loved ones this year, but with Covid cases in Norway rising and restrictions being tightened, would it be wise to cancel?

Pictured is a traditional cabin in the snow.
Should you put off your trip to Norway this Christmas? Pictured is a traditional cabin blanketed in snow. Photo by Håkon Sataøen on Unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic has made travelling to see loved ones a lot harder and a lot less straightforward over the past 18 months. 

For people wishing to travel to Norway, this has been especially difficult as the country had been closed to large groups of travellers for large parts of the year.

Restrictions on who can travel to Norway were eventually lifted completely last month but entry rules remain in place for travellers and have been tightened in recent weeks.

Additionally, cases have been soaring in the Nordic country in recent weeks. Weekly infections have increased eight-fold since October. Several new restrictions have been implemented to try and curb infections and the government has warned that it will not hesitate to introduce more in the future. 

As a result many may be wondering whether they should reconsider travelling to Norway. 

What is the infection situation in Norway? 

Norway currently has one the highest infection rates found anywhere in Europe. The country is registering an average of 901 daily Covid-19 infections per one million people. 

This is almost twice the European average. Of the countries covered by The Local, only Denmark and Switzerland currently have a higher rate of daily cases. 

Health authorities meanwhile expect the Omicron variant  to become dominant in Norway within weeks, due to early research indicating it spreads faster than the currently-dominant Delta variant. 

The Omicron variant currently makes up more than 17.61 percent of all Covid cases in Norway according to Our World in Data.

However, early reports suggest that the Omicron variant could lead to milder disease than the Delta variant.   

What are the travel rules? 

All travellers over the age of 16 must register their journey to Norway on the government’s website. This applies regardless of vaccination status or prior immunity. 

Pre-departure Covid-19 tests are required for people who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from the virus in the previous six months. This also applies to travellers without a valid Covid-19 health pass. Children under-18 won’t need to test before travel. 

Norway currently only recognises health passes compatible with the EU scheme and digital certificates from the United Kingdom and a handful of other non-EEA countries as proof of vaccination or having recovered from the disease. 

Fully vaccinated travellers with an approved health pass will not need to test before departing.

Regardless of vaccine status, prior infection or health pass, all travellers will need to test for Covid-19 after arriving in Norway. In most cases, this can be done at the border in the form of a rapid antigen test, especially at airports. Travellers must wait for results at the test centre. 

In instances where there isn’t a test station at the border, for example, some land borders, or in the event of queues, some travellers will be sent home with rapid antigen tests.

Arrivals who aren’t fully vaccinated, have not recovered from coronavirus within the last half a year or do not have an approved health pass will also need to quarantine. 

The quarantine period is set at ten days. However, you can end quarantine after returning a negative PCR test taken no sooner than three days after arrival. This means, typically, you can expect an isolation period of around five to six days, depending on the length of time it takes to process your test.

Quarantine hotels are not mandatory, and you can spend the isolation period at home provided you have access to a private room and can social distance. 

What are the Covid-19 rules? 

Currently, there are several measures in place that will impact people visiting the country. You will need to social distance and wear a face mask in shops, restaurants and other venues, on public transport, in taxis and shopping centres.

READ ALSO: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas? 

Furthermore, the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants is prohibited nationwide, meaning you won’t be able to have a glass of wine while eating out, for example. A more significant knock-on effect of this is that several businesses may choose to close their doors entirely as the company is not profitable without the sale of alcohol.

This will make it harder to find a place to eat, especially during the week. Restaurants also have to register guests’ contact information in case there is a Covid outbreak, meaning there is a possibility you may need to isolate after being identified as a close contact by contact tracers. This could throw a spanner in the works of any plans to travel home. 

Being contact traced could present a problem for visitors, even if they are vaccinated, as there are no exemptions for being jabbed. 

READ ALSO: What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?

There is also a recommendation that gatherings are limited to 10 guests (20 are allowed on Christmas Eve or one party), although this isn’t legally binding. 

Covid-19 health passes certificates aren’t currently being used, but municipalities have the power to implement them. Ski lifts and winter sports activities remain open. 

The measures will be in place until mid-January but could be tightened further if the situation requires. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

All Covid travel rules for Norway have been completely lifted for a while now- but what happens if you test positive or start to develop Covid symptoms while you are here?

Tourists: What to do if you catch Covid-19 in Norway 

Covid travel rules in Norway have been lifted for a while, and all but a few recommendations remain domestically. This is a far cry from a similar time last year when Norway had very strict travel rules in place. 

Testing

Close contacts of Covid infected are not required to get a test, meaning if you have been in contact with somebody with Covid-19, you will not be required to get tested under the official rules. 

However, if you wish to take a test, you can buy self-tests at supermarkets and pharmacies. You can also order Covid-19 tests from Norwegian municipalities if you want a PCR test. You can find the contact information for every municipality in Norway here. Facemasks are also widely available in shops and pharmacies. 

Several private providers, such as Volvat and Dr Dropin, offer antigen and PCR tests with results within 24 hours. However, municipality tests can take longer to deliver results. If you need a test to travel home, you will not be able to get one from a local authority. These tests are only for those with symptoms of Covid-19.  

Home tests will not cost more than 60 kroner from supermarkets, while a municipality test will be free. However, private providers’ tests are pricier, costing between 1,000 and 1,500 kroner at most private clinics.

Isolation

There are also no specific rules in regards to isolation. 

“If you have respiratory symptoms, you should stay at home until you feel well. If you feel well, you can live as normal,” Helsenorge advises on its websiteMeaning that if you are asymptomatic, you aren’t advised to isolate. 

Other symptoms which you may need to isolate with include headache and blocked nose and influenza-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and feeling unwell. 

The isolation information means you will need to liaise with the hotel or accommodation you are staying at. 

Travellers are advised to check what their insurance covers before taking out a policy to avoid being left out of pocket if they have to pay for new flights or an extended stay because they are isolating. 

If you test positive, you are also advised to steer clear of those in risk groups. 

Self-isolation advice applies regardless of vaccination status or previous infection. 

What else should I know? 

If your symptoms get worse, the best course of practice would be to contact a standard GP.

You can also contact the out-of-hours urgent care number on 116 117. This will put you through to the nearest urgent care centre to you. Visitors can also call for an ambulance on 113, but this is only advisable in life-threatening situations, such as a stroke or cardiac arrest.

In addition to checking your insurance policy, you also will need to check the rules of the country you are returning to or travelling through in case you may need a test to enter. 

If you have an EHIC card and receive medical care after testing positive for Covid-19, you will only be required to pay the same subsidised fees Norwegians do for healthcare. Despite this, European citizens are also advised to take out travel insurance. 

Non-European visitors are entitled to urgent medical care but will need to pay the full cost with no prospect of reimbursement if they don’t have health insurance. 

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