The Norwegian Government will open Norway’s borders for leisure travel to and from the other Nordic countries from 15 June, but will maintain quarantine rules and restrictions on entry for people arriving from regions where the level of infection is high. The regions to which the rules on quarantine on entering Norway no longer apply will also be excepted from the travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
‘We have begun to reopen society together, cautiously and gradually, in line with our long-term strategy. The next step is to open for leisure travel within the Nordic region according to certain criteria,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
By 20 July, the Government will consider making changes to its travel advice and quarantine rules for certain other European countries. The level of infection in each country will determine what changes are made.
A gradual and cautious approach
The Prime Minister emphasised once again that the Government cannot make too many changes at once or ease the restrictions too much, even if there may be good reasons for each individual change.
‘If we ease too many of the restrictions at once, we risk losing control and at worst might have to introduce severe restrictions again,’ said Ms Solberg.
The criteria for removing travel restrictions between Norway and the other Nordic countries include the incidence of COVID-19 (i.e. new cases) relative to population size, the number of people recently admitted to intensive care, and the proportion of positive tests. Other criteria relate to test, track and trace systems and information for people travelling.
All regions in Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Denmark currently meet Norway’s criteria. The Danish authorities have adopted their own national rules for the Copenhagen region, which Norwegians travelling to Denmark must comply with. Large parts of Sweden do not meet the criteria now, and quarantine rules and restrictions on entry to Norway will still apply to people entering Norway from these regions. At present, Gotland is the only part of Sweden that fulfils Norway’s criteria. The map and criteria are available here.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still advising against non-essential travel to all countries outside the Nordic region.
Keep up to date with developments
The list of areas that do not meet the criteria will be updated at least every two weeks. If there is an increase in the spread of infection in a particular region and it no longer meets the criteria, the quarantine rules for people coming to Norway from the region and the other restrictions on entry will be reintroduced. Similarly, these restrictions will be lifted for regions where the situation improves so that they fulfil Norway’s criteria. The list will be available on the Institute of Public Health’s website and on the Government’s website: regjeringen.no.
The Government will continue to work with the other Nordic countries with a view to ensuring that the criteria used to assess infection levels in different areas across the Nordic region are as similar as possible. Opening the borders in this way will also reduce the likelihood of being forced to close them again completely if the level of infection changes in specific regions.
Transit through higher risk areas
The Government will also lift restrictions on travel through areas where there is a higher risk of infection to Denmark and Finland provided that people use their own vehicles. This involves little risk as long as people do not spend the night in such areas and that they keep their distance from other people if they need to stop. People are expected to take the shortest possible route through areas where there is a higher risk of infection.
Norwegians who visit their cabins in regions of the Nordic countries where there is a higher risk of infection will still be subject to quarantine requirements when they return to Norway. People from such regions who have cabins in Norway will still be subject to quarantine rules if they visit their cabins.
‘Imported cases of infection represent the greatest risk of a new flare up of coronavirus. We have all made a huge effort to suppress the virus in Norway. It is now vital to open up society gradually so that we can in time get back to an almost normal situation,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
People from other Nordic countries who commute across the Norwegian border for work are excepted from restrictions on entry and quarantine rules when travelling between home and work and during working hours, even if they come from an area with a higher level of infection. They will still be subject to quarantine rules outside working hours. Other people from the Nordic region who travel across the border for work will no longer be subject to quarantine rules outside working hours.
For now, the Government is maintaining the requirement to go into quarantine after entering Norway for people from countries outside the Nordic region who will be taking up a job in Norway.
The Government is now introducing changes to allow coastal cruises and expeditions to the Svalbard area on vessels carrying a maximum of 250 passengers. The Longyearbyen settlement has been hit hard by the consequences of the pandemic. It is therefore vital to enable more of the tourist industry in Svalbard to reopen. All activities must be carried out in accordance with strict rules and guidelines. Specific guidelines for the cruise industry have been drawn up.