‘The infection situation in Norway as well as Europe indicates that we must regrettably continue to limit the numbers travelling here as much as possible. At the same time, we must seek to maintain levels of activity in Norwegian businesses,’ says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Conservative).
The government previously announced in February that it would establish a very limited application-based scheme for individuals that were crucial to ensuring ongoing operations in industry. This scheme is now ready to be deployed.
‘Initially, we will be inviting applications from technical personnel who carry out duties that are strictly necessary for ensuring that activities continue in Norwegian places of work. We will now be reviewing whether it is possible to include other categories of employee in the scheme. We will announce further details of this following a detailed assessment of the infection situation and the needs of industry,’ says Iselin Nybø (Liberal), Minister of Trade and Industry.
The scheme will not resolve the need for personnel to fulfil ordinary duties in industry. The risk of opening the borders to too many people is too great. This scheme incorporates foreign employees with technical skills who are wholly necessary for the installation, removal, inspection, repair or maintenance of machinery and technical equipment, or who may otherwise provide informed training relating to these. The employee must be an employee of or contractor to the company that submits the application. It is also a requirement of the scheme that the work in question is strictly necessary in order to ensure continued activities in the business.
The scheme will be administered by the Norwegian Maritime Authority and companies will be able to apply via Altinn from Saturday 20 February at 10:00.
Quarantine location must be pre-approved
Employees who are permitted to enter Norway must continue to comply with the strict quarantine regulations that are in place.
Employers who make accommodation available to foreign employees must have this location pre-approved by the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority.
‘The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has identified too many violations of the infection prevention regulations when inspecting accommodation provided to foreign employees. As a result, the government is proposing that accommodation be pre-approved to make it easier to maintain infection prevention controls,’ says Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative), Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion.
Upon entry into Norway, it is necessary to quarantine if you arrive from a country with high levels of infection. As a general rule, quarantine must be undertaken in a quarantine hotel. Persons arriving in Norway to carry out work or contract assignments and who are able to prove that their employer has placed pre-approved accommodation at their disposal are not required to stay in a quarantine hotel.
When applying to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority for approval of accommodation, the employer must document that it is possible to reside in that location without coming into contact with other people. Employees must have their own bathroom and their own kitchen or dining facilities, as well as access to a private room offering television and internet facilities.
A processing fee is due in order to have an application to the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority considered. Additionally, the Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion will be proposing an increase in the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority’s budget through the revised state budget.
The scheme will launch on Monday 22 February.
‘In order to control the Covid-19 infection in Norway, we are dependent on having strict measures in place to reduce infections arriving from other countries. This pre-approval scheme will help to achieve this,’ says,’ says Kjell Ingolf Ropstad (Christian Democratic), Minister of Children, Family and Church Affairs.
Penalties for violations of accommodation requirements
The government has today adopted amendments to the Covid-19 regulations. These amendments will ensure that employers can be penalised if they do not comply with the requirements governing the accommodation made available to their employees.
‘The vast majority of companies are serious actors who want to follow the rules. However, it is important to rod on hand for those unserious actors who seek to circumvent the regulations. Unfortunately, we have also seen instances of this,’ says Guri Melby (Liberal), Minister of Education.
Stricter quarantine hotel rules
The government is continuing to work to impose stricter rules in relation to the use of quarantine hotels.
The government plans to rapidly introduce a duty to report and a registration scheme for all persons arriving at quarantine hotels. Municipalities will check on a daily basis that the people who arrived in quarantine hotels are actually there and that infection prevention regulations are being adhered to.
‘We will shortly be announcing the details of how this will be implemented. The key issue is that we will be stricter in enforcing the law and keep a closer eye on people who are staying in quarantine hotels,’ says Monica Mæland (Conservative), Minister of Justice.
The government will also evaluate other measures to ensure that quarantine is undertaken in a satisfactory manner.
More people in quarantine hotels
Until now, persons arriving in the country for purposes other than work and who are not registered resident in Norway have been permitted to quarantine in alternative, suitable accommodation other than quarantine hotels. This opportunity will be less available. As a general rule, this group will now also be required to stay in quarantine hotels.
It will now only be possible to be exempted from the requirement to stay in a quarantine hotel for persons arriving in the country on special grounds such as to exercise visitation rights with their own children or to participate in a funeral service. This applies to both Norwegian and non-Norwegian citizens. Such persons must provide confirmation that they have alternative, suitable accommodation at their disposal during the quarantine period.
‘People who live in Norway but are not registered as resident here may only quarantine in their permanent residence and only if this satisfies the requirements for suitable accommodation. This means that it must be possible to avoid close contact with others and that the person in quarantine must have their own room, their own bathroom, and their own kitchen or dining facilities,’ Mæland explains. ‘If their home is rented, the lease agreement must have a minimum term of six month to be considered a “permanent residence” in accordance with this provision,’ says Mæland.
Additionally, it has been clarified in the provision that members of the same household who arrive in Norway together may quarantine in the same location without a requirement for them to have their own rooms, own bathrooms and own kitchens. This makes it clearer that the provision only applies to spouses, cohabitants and their children.
‘We are making these changes to ensure that travellers to Norway remain in a location that is appropriate for completing their quarantine in, and to tighten checks on whether quarantine rules are being adhered to,’ says Mæland.
New measures to prevent spread of virus
The government has issued several new recommendations:
- Members of households who live together with someone who is quarantining following their arrival in Norway are also encouraged to quarantine if they do not have access to separate bedrooms and bathroom facilities, or if it is difficult to maintain distancing of at least two metres.
- Persons who live together with people who are quarantining following their arrival in Norway are encouraged to take a Covid-19 test on day seven after the traveller’s arrival even if they have not themselves been in quarantine.
- Municipalities are encouraged to provide quarantine accommodation for households where it is not possible to maintain adequate distancing at home.
The government will also be introducing new obligations:
- A requirement to take a Covid-19 test on day seven is being introduced for all persons arriving in Norway who do not stay in a quarantine hotel.
- A requirement is being introduced for municipalities, insofar as testing capacity permits, to facilitate voluntary testing on day seven of all persons staying in quarantine hotels.
The government is tightening the infection prevention regulations in the following ways:
- The exemption from having to provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken 24 hours prior to arrival in Norway that applied to military personnel as specified in Section 1-7, paragraphs two and three of the Immigration Regulations if they arrived in Norway by non-commercial transport has been removed.
- The exemptions from quarantine upon arrival applicable to air crew and train crew on freight trains will be retained, but will be amended so that the previous requirement that air crew be tested within twenty-four hours of arrival is replaced by a requirement for testing at the border upon arrival. The resting regime for train crew will remain unchanged.
- The exemption pertaining the special rules for quarantine upon arrival for military personnel will be amended so that the maximum ceiling for any single quarantine cohort is 10 persons.
- A requirement has been introduced stipulating that professional drivers who are exempt from providing proof of a negative test at the border and from having to quarantine must use a face covering in all situations where they are outside of their vehicles in locations where other people are present.
All changes where there is no specific date for entry into force will take effect from 00:01 on Tuesday 23 February.