‘The situation in terms of infections in Norway, as well as Europe in general, indicate that we must unfortunately continue limiting the number of people travelling to this country as much as possible. We are therefore extending the strict entry restrictions that are in place until 28 February. Naturally, we are aware that the restrictions have a tremendous impact on families, individuals and business,’ says Monica Mæland (Conservative), Minister of Justice and Public Security.
‘Closed borders have significant consequences on Norwegian workplaces. This is why we must establish a safety valve to enable critical personnel to enter the country,’ says Mæland.
As a result, a very narrow application-based scheme is to be introduced in order to allow businesses to bring strictly necessary, business-critical personnel into the country. This scheme will be managed by the Norwegian Maritime Authority and will be subject to the authority of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. The aim of the scheme is to ensure that individuals who are strictly necessary to maintaining ongoing activities within Norwegian businesses are able to enter the country.
‘We have made good use of our time since effectively closing the borders. Since 29 January, we have been in close dialogue with industry – including both employers and employees. We have also sought professional advice from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Directorate of Health. We are now making further changes in order to tighten our quarantine procedures,’ says Bent Høie (Conservative), Minister of Health and Care Services.
As a principle, all travellers must stay in quarantine hotels. The scheme allowing employers to provide accommodation will be amended so that in future prior approval is required. We will shortly be announcing the details of this scheme.
The government is also clarifying the rules relating to who may quarantine together (i.e. at the same location) without requiring a dedicated bedroom, separate bathroom and separate kitchen facilities for each individual person.
‘The Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority has expressed its belief that this exemption is being misused by persons who claim to live together abroad without this being the case. We are now changing this by specifying that the word “household” refers to persons within an immediate family who live together in their home country. All other persons must seek prior approval for their suitable accommodation if they are not intending to stay in a quarantine hotel,’ says Mæland.
A small but important exemption is also being introduced in relation to children who cross the border on a daily basis to attend school in Norway.
‘Although many children are currently in virtual learning environments, we have seen examples of pupils enrolled on vocational courses who are unable to receive teaching due to the closure of our borders. These rules will change effective this coming Monday,’ says Mæland.
Mandatory testing, requirements that travellers document a negative Covid-19 test result from a test taken in the 24 hours prior to their arrival in Norway, traveller registration, quarantine and quarantine hotels will continue to apply to those persons who are exempt from the restrictions on travel until further notice. We will also carry out a fresh review of the exemptions in place to identify further areas where tightened restrictions may be needed and where enhanced control mechanisms may be possible.
‘This has placed a great burden on many. We must therefore ensure that the numbers of infections that are imported are kept as low as possible. It is very important for people who are travelling to Norway at present to ensure they get tested and adhere to our quarantine requirements. We will also ensure that random spot checks are carried out on testing facilities at selected border crossings,’ says Mæland.