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TRAVEL NEWS

Sweden scraps negative Covid test for travellers from Norway

Less than four weeks after it was introduced, Sweden will later this week scrap the Covid test requirement for foreign visitors from some countries, including Norway, and will bring back the Covid-19 certificate rules that applied before the turn of the year.

Pictured is a Norwegian police officer at the border with Sweden.
Sweden has decided to relax its testing rules for travellers from Norway and the EEA. Pictured is a police office at the border with Sweden. Photo by Petter Bernsten/AFP

The Swedish government made the announcement following a request from the Public Health Agency, with the new border rules set to come into force on Friday, January 21st.

Since December 28th, foreign citizens (with some exceptions, such as residents of Sweden or people travelling for urgent family reasons) have had to show a negative test to be allowed into the country, regardless of country of departure or vaccination status.

These rules were introduced after the Omicron variant of the coronavirus started to spread in other European countries, but the variant now dominates in Sweden too. Sweden has been seeing a rapid increase in the number of new Covid cases in recent weeks.

“Travellers are no longer considered to pose a special risk of affecting the spread of Omicron in Sweden. The special requirement for a negative test for ongoing Covid-19 infection performed no more than 48 hours before arrival in Sweden is therefore no longer considered to be a proportionate measure, according to a request from the Swedish Public Health Agency,” read a government statement on Tuesday.

The entry rules that applied prior to December 28th will now be brought back.

This means that adult foreign citizens (again with certain exceptions) travelling to Sweden from EU/EEA countries, including the Nordics, will have to show either the EU’s Digital Covid Certificate or a valid equivalent which shows that the person is either fully vaccinated with a first and second dose, tested negative no more than 72 hours before arrival, or recovered from confirmed infection in the past six months.

Foreign citizens travelling to Sweden from outside the EU/EEA must be covered by an exemption from the overall entry ban (for example if they live in an “exempt” country), and show a negative Covid test no older than 72 hours unless they are also exempt from the test requirement.

Several categories of travellers are exempt both from the entry ban and from presenting a negative test on the border, for example under-18s, people who live in Sweden, people travelling for urgent family reasons, or travellers with vaccination certificates issued in so-called “approved” countries. A full list of countries whose vaccination certificates Sweden accepts for entry can be found here.

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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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