Norwegian health authorities issued updated guidance today on holiday and leisure travel in Norway. The new guidance will help to make travelling in Norway this summer a safe experience. Also today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extended its own travel advice, continuing to caution against non-essential travel to all countries. As it stands, this advice will remain in effect until 20 August. By 15 June, however, consideration will be given to amending the travel advice as it pertains to the Nordic countries. By 20 July, consideration will be given to amending it for certain other nearby European countries.
‘I would recommend that people plan a Norwegian holiday this summer. Norway is a beautiful holiday country, and even though this year’s holiday will be different than planned, I am sure it will be a fine one. A lot of people will have to change their plans, but we’re now providing a more predictable path forward, so it’s easier to make holiday plans. You can travel wherever you want in the country. Maybe this is the year you discover a part of Norway you have not seen before – by car, on foot or by boat, train or plane,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
People are free to pursue holiday and leisure travel as long as they do so in a way that avoids transmitting infection. That means not travelling when sick or undergoing home quarantine. It also means ensuring sound hygiene and keeping at least one metre away from people other than those you live with. The new guidance applies starting today.
Holidaying with grandparents
The health guidance covers travelling with people in high-risk groups as well as how and when multiple generations of family members may travel together. In general, people whose risk level is only slightly elevated may travel like everyone else, but must be extra mindful of the usual infection control measures. This means many grandparents – even if they are in a slightly elevated risk group – will be able to take a holiday with their children and grandchildren.
Those whose risk level is clearly elevated must assess on an individual basis whether they should travel and with whom, factoring in the duration and content of any proposed trip. For grandparents in this group, travelling with children and grandchildren would not be advisable in many situations.
‘People have been good at following the advice of staying home if sick, practicing good hand and cough hygiene and distancing themselves from others. When planning a holiday, we must find ways to follow the same rules we have been observing at home,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel advice extended to 20 August
Though many countries have cautiously begun to relax infection control measures, travelling is still difficult, even in Europe. Travel restrictions in and between countries, quarantine rules, infection control routines and a scarcity of flights (which to make matters worse are often cancelled) continue to cause trouble for travelling Norwegians. The situation is very far from normal. Norwegian embassies still receive many requests for assistance from travellers trying to return to Norway.
‘I understand very well that people want to plan ahead for their holidays and other trips,’ said Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide. ‘Norway and other European countries are gradually easing the rules domestically. It is too early to say how that will affect the spread of infection. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is therefore maintaining its current travel advice, which cautions against travel to all countries unless strictly necessary. This travel advice applies through 20 August, but may be adjusted. By 15 June, we will consider amending it for the Nordic countries. And by 20 July we will look at amending it for certain other nearby European countries.’
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to experience heavy demand from Norwegians seeking assistance and advice. In many places the situation remains confused and unpredictable owing to travel restrictions, quarantine regulations and a multitude of flight cancellations. Extremely limited access to health services is also common in some areas due to the pandemic. Under these circumstances the ability of Norway’s missions abroad to provide consular assistance to Norwegian nationals is also reduced. This will be among the factors considered as the Ministry re-evaluates it travel advice going forward.
Prohibitions on entry
Travellers must assume that Norway’s prohibitions against entering the country will remain in effect until 20 August, but the Government will consider whether additional exemptions may be possible. By 15 June, consideration will be given to permitting leisure travellers from the Nordic countries to enter. By 20 July, permitting such entry from other nearby European countries will also be considered.
Quarantine on arrival
Everyone coming to Norway today is required to undergo quarantine. This policy, too, is being extended through 20 August. But as with the travel advice, and by the same dates, the Government will consider easing the quarantine requirement.
Tourists from the mainland can once again go to Svalbard
The Government is ready to begin allowing tourists from the mainland to travel to Svalbard, starting 1 June. Quarantine upon arrival in Svalbard has thus far been a general requirement for people travelling from the mainland. A working committee in Svalbard has drawn up an industry standard for sound infection control practices in the tourism industry.
‘It is important that the tourism industry and other businesses in Svalbard now have a predictable timeline and can start planning to receive tourists from the mainland from 1 June,’ said Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland.
Since many Norwegians will be holidaying in Norway this summer, the tourism industry is preparing to accommodate visitors in a safe manner. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has created a template for a variety of industries, businesses, services and organisations to use as a basis for drawing up their own infection control routines.
The Institute of Public Health urges everyone that provides tourist activities to create a plan to operate in a way that hinders disease transmission.
‘Norway is a fantastic destination,’ said Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø. ‘We are now making it possible to travel anywhere in the country. However, it must be safe. Safety is something the authorities and the tourism industry are working together to ensure. I have great confidence that the companies catering to tourists will manage to adapt to the infection control guidelines, so they can offer safe, high-quality holiday options this summer in our own country.’