Norway already has one of the strictest regulatory regimes in place in Europe to prevent the import of infections. The government is now introducing even stricter rules pertaining to testing and quarantine upon arrival. ‘We are doing this in order to stop and delay the spread of the coronavirus mutations and more infectious variants here in Norway,’ says Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services.
The requirement to present a certificate documenting a negative SARS-Co V-2 test result prior to arrival to Norway is being amended to require that the test is taken within 24 hours of departure, rather than the previous 72 hours. Persons who are travelling by plan can have test test done witin the last 24 hours before scheduled departuretime for the first part of the flight. The flight can be a direct flight to Norway or a continous flight to Norway with stopovers at other airports. This will open for travellers from other continents with longer travel time.
At present, only persons who have been to the UK and South Africa are required to undergo a PCR test at the Norwegian border. This requirement is now being extended to include Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Brazil. Additionally, persons who have been in these countries between 15–25 January must take a PCR test as soon as possible. Any positive result from a rapid Covid test taken at the border must be followed by a PCR test in the case of all travellers. A PCR-test is necessary in order to do further analysis to establish if the sample contains one of the mutated and more contagious variations of the virus.
Quarantine rules tightened and fewer exemptions
The quarantine rules are being tightened across the board. There will be fewer exemptions in the quarantine rules and an increase in the testing requirements that apply to persons subject to exemptions.
The following rules are changing:
- There will be stricter requirements applicable to the testing of personnel holding society-critical roles who have special exemptions from the requirements to quarantine upon arrival or in the event of infection. The overarching rule will now be that such persons must receive a negative test result from a SARS-Co-V-2 test using the PCR method before they begin working. This test must be taken no sooner than 72 hours after their arrival in Norway. In situations of urgency where it is not possible to await the result of a PCR test, a person may begin work after a negative test using a rapid test taken on the same day that work is due to be performed.
- The exemption from the requirements to quarantine through testing upon arrival for those travelling for work-related reasons in connection with international sporting competitions has been terminated until 31 January. The government will carry out a re-assessment of the situation prior to this date.
- Persons who are scheduled to work on board vessels in Norwegian ports must take a PCR test when being tested at the end of their quarantine period.
- The quarantine upon arrival rules for military personnel will also be tightened. Quarantine may be completed in groups of up to 5 persons, but the Norwegian Armed Forces Joint Medical Services may, at its discretion, determine that more persons may be included in such groups on a case-by-case basis and groups shall still be limited to no more than 30 persons.
- The current exemption from quarantine upon arrival for commuters who regularly arrive in Norway from Sweden and Finland and who undergo testing once every seven days is being amended to ensure that the exemption cannot be used by persons who have been in an area outside of Sweden and Finland that necessitates quarantine within a period of 10 days prior to their arrival.
- The exemptions from quarantine applicable to persons crossing the border to facilitate custodial obligations involving minors and their parents, and to persons who have been invited by the Norwegian state authorities to the country on foreign policy grounds are to be tightened. There is now a requirement to undergo testing 72 hours after arrival in order to be exempt from quarantine during working or school hours. Exemptions will no longer be available during leisure hours. Custodial access to children may be undertaken during quarantine.
These changes take effect at 00:01 on Monday 25 January.