This week, Norway is changing quarantine hotel rules and easing entry restrictions. Here are the details

Erna SolbergPhoto: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB
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The distinction between necessary and unnecessary travel is removed for entry into Norway so that travelers from the UK and countries in the EEA/Schengen area with a low infection rate do not have to stay at a quarantine hotel. 

People who have been to areas with a high rate of infection must stay at a quarantine hotel, regardless of the purpose of the trip. Exemptions from the entry restrictions are introduced for foreign nationals who reside in areas that are not subject to the duty to quarantine in Norway.

“We are changing the rules concerning quarantine hotels. We are removing the distinction between necessary and unnecessary travel for entry into Norway, and we are looking, instead, at the rate of infection in the individual countries. 

“This means that travelers from the UK and countries in the EEA/Schengen area with a low rate of infection also are exempt from staying at a quarantine hotel. In the time ahead, people who have been to areas with a high rate of infection must stay at a quarantine hotel. 

“This applies even if the travel was necessary, in connection with work. As soon as we have established a means of documentation that is digital, secure, and verifiable, protected people – among others, people who received their first vaccine dose more than three weeks ago – do not have to stay at a quarantine hotel,” Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland said last week.

The following groups must stay at a quarantine hotel from Thursday, May 27, 2021: 

  • In principle, people who have traveled outside Europe must stay at a quarantine hotel for the entire quarantine period until a negative test result is produced after no less than 7 days.
  • Travelers from European countries that have less than 150 new cases of COVID-19 per 100 000 people in the last 14 days and where no more than 4% of people tested have a positive test result, do not have to stay at a quarantine hotel. They must complete quarantine at home or another suitable place of quarantine.
  • Travelers from the UK and countries in the EEA/Schengen area with more than 150 new cases of COVID-19 per 100 000 people must stay at a quarantine hotel until they have a negative result from a test taken no sooner than 3 days after arrival. They must complete quarantine at home or another suitable place of quarantine and can end quarantine early following a negative test taken no sooner than 7 days after arrival.
  • Travelers from European countries with a very high rate of infection must stay at a quarantine hotel until they have a negative result from a test taken no sooner than 7 days after arrival. There will be more information about this group later.

Several exemptions

Exemptions on compelling, compassionate grounds will stay in effect. The Norwegian government will introduce a dispensation program for this group, allowing them to apply for exemption from the duty to stay at a quarantine hotel and receive the decision before they arrive at the border.

Exemptions will also be made for maritime personnel who have been to countries outside the EEA/Schengen area and the UK who are meant to sign on in Norway. Maritime personnel must still stay at a quarantine hotel after returning to Norway but can complete the quarantine on board the ship before signing on for service. These changes entered into effect on May 21.

For elite athletes who may be selected for participation in the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, and for necessary support personnel, there will be changes to the travel quarantine rules and an exemption from the duty to stay at a quarantine hotel after they have been abroad to compete as part of their preparations and the qualification process for the Olympic or Paralympic Games. After returning to Norway, they must quarantine until they have a negative result from a test taken no sooner than 3 days after arrival.

Fewer cases of imported infection

“The strict measures at our borders have yielded results. There are fewer imported cases of COVID-19, but the infection situation in the world around us is still complex and serious in many places. 

“We must continue to have strict restrictions for entry into Norway for foreign nationals, but we are introducing exemptions for people who live in countries where the rate of infection is so low that we do not require them to go into quarantine,” Mæland noted.

An exemption from entry restrictions is being introduced for foreign nationals who reside in countries/areas (“yellow countries”) that are not subject to the duty to quarantine in Norway. This will initially apply to Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, and parts of Finland, but this will change as more countries vaccinate their populations and infection levels decline. This exemption also takes effect on May 27.

The UK will be included in this arrangement and will thus be assessed according to the same criteria as the EEA/Schengen area countries.

In connection with Step 3 of the reopening plan, there will be a review of the entry restrictions that have been eased. At that stage, a further easing of measures for family, romantic partners, international students, and people who travel for work will be considered.

Expert recommendations

The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) have recently made comprehensive recommendations concerning which entry rules should apply until everyone in Norway over the age of 18 has been offered vaccination. 

Included in the recommendations are a 3-day travel quarantine also for vaccinated people during this period and an extension of the global travel advice until the end of July. The Norwegian government has not yet made a decision concerning these suggestions. It believes there is reason to question whether they are too strict. Consequently, the agencies have been asked to reassess these recommendations.

“Once we have received new expert advice, we will consider removing the travel quarantine entirely for people protected through vaccination or immunity after having had COVID-19. However, this will first require the implementation of a verifiable COVID-19 certificate,” Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie said.

Global travel advice

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will keep its global travel advice in effect until July 1. The risk of international travel leading to more cases of COVID-19 is still high, and the import of new variants of the virus will make it more difficult to reopen society here in Norway.

“The gradual reopening planned by the Norwegian government is ongoing, but the health authorities recommend avoiding international travel until a larger proportion of the Norwegian population has been vaccinated. For this reason, we will keep the global travel advice in effect until July 1. 

“We do not want to keep the travel advice for longer than necessary, but in the current situation, planning to spend the summer holiday in Norway will give people greater predictability,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide noted last week.

Source: The Norwegian government / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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