COVID-19 certificates – proposed amendments to the Control of Communicable Diseases Act

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The Norwegian Government is presenting the Storting with a Proposition regarding temporary amendments to the Control of Communicable Diseases Act in order to establish a legal basis for COVID-19 certificates. The purpose of the new provisions is to establish a system for secure and verifiable documentation of a person’s vaccination status, immunity after having had COVID-19, and test results.

Information in other languages (more languages will be published):

The Proposition will facilitate the implementation of the upcoming EU Directive and grant the Ministry of Health and Care Services with the authorisation to regulate the use of COVID-19 certificates through regulations when necessary.

‘Initially, domestic use of COVID-19 certificates will be relevant for public events, cruises and other “package holidays”, as recommended by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. We are also considering use of the certificates for other purposes and in municipalities where measures are stricter than the national measures’, says Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.

The Norwegian Government has asked the various government agencies to assess whether use of COVID-19 certificates can begin sooner than during Step 3 of the reopening process, and in several areas, and also to consider the potential for local use.

A faster reopening of society
“The Norwegian Government believes that COVID-19 certificates will allow a gradual and controlled reopening of society. They can lead to a faster national reopening”, states Mr Høie.

The use of COVID-19 certificates will cease when the rate of infection and vaccination indicate that restrictions are no longer necessary. The EU regulations will also have a time limitation. It will be up to the individual country to regulate national use.

“The first version of the Norwegian COVID-19 certificate is already available at helsenorge.no. The certificate shows test results and whether you have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Work is currently being done to bring this COVID-19 certificate in line with the EU’s framework. The COVID-19 certificate must be designed so that it can be used both in Norway and abroad”, says Mr Høie.

Consultation
On 5 May 2021, the Ministry of Health and Care Services sent a bill out for consultation concerning a new and temporary Chapter 4A of the Control of Communicable Diseases Act. The Ministry has received a total of 10 572 consultative statements. They have all been read, and the various points of view are reflected in the assessments made by the Ministry.

The issue of COVID-19 certificates has inspired great debate, and the consultative bodies are in disagreement as to whether such certificates should be introduced. Where some people welcome the certificate as a useful and fair tool necessary for the reopening of society, others see the COVID-19 certificate as a threat to Norwegian society.

Government agencies and large organisations are generally in favour of the bill. Some legal scholars believe that the bill does not have clear legal authority. Approximately 10 500 private individuals have submitted consultative statements. The majority of these people are critical of the COVID-19 certificate.

You can read more about the consultation here:
Høring om koronasertifikat - endringer i smittevernloven - regjeringen.no (Norwegian only)