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Should I cancel my trip to Norway this Christmas? 

Many will have booked trips to spend the holidays with their loved ones this year, but with Covid cases in Norway rising and restrictions being tightened, would it be wise to cancel?

Pictured is a traditional cabin in the snow.
Should you put off your trip to Norway this Christmas? Pictured is a traditional cabin blanketed in snow. Photo by Håkon Sataøen on Unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic has made travelling to see loved ones a lot harder and a lot less straightforward over the past 18 months. 

For people wishing to travel to Norway, this has been especially difficult as the country had been closed to large groups of travellers for large parts of the year.

Restrictions on who can travel to Norway were eventually lifted completely last month but entry rules remain in place for travellers and have been tightened in recent weeks.

Additionally, cases have been soaring in the Nordic country in recent weeks. Weekly infections have increased eight-fold since October. Several new restrictions have been implemented to try and curb infections and the government has warned that it will not hesitate to introduce more in the future. 

As a result many may be wondering whether they should reconsider travelling to Norway. 

What is the infection situation in Norway? 

Norway currently has one the highest infection rates found anywhere in Europe. The country is registering an average of 901 daily Covid-19 infections per one million people. 

This is almost twice the European average. Of the countries covered by The Local, only Denmark and Switzerland currently have a higher rate of daily cases. 

Health authorities meanwhile expect the Omicron variant  to become dominant in Norway within weeks, due to early research indicating it spreads faster than the currently-dominant Delta variant. 

The Omicron variant currently makes up more than 17.61 percent of all Covid cases in Norway according to Our World in Data.

However, early reports suggest that the Omicron variant could lead to milder disease than the Delta variant.   

What are the travel rules? 

All travellers over the age of 16 must register their journey to Norway on the government’s website. This applies regardless of vaccination status or prior immunity. 

Pre-departure Covid-19 tests are required for people who are not fully vaccinated or have not recovered from the virus in the previous six months. This also applies to travellers without a valid Covid-19 health pass. Children under-18 won’t need to test before travel. 

Norway currently only recognises health passes compatible with the EU scheme and digital certificates from the United Kingdom and a handful of other non-EEA countries as proof of vaccination or having recovered from the disease. 

Fully vaccinated travellers with an approved health pass will not need to test before departing.

Regardless of vaccine status, prior infection or health pass, all travellers will need to test for Covid-19 after arriving in Norway. In most cases, this can be done at the border in the form of a rapid antigen test, especially at airports. Travellers must wait for results at the test centre. 

In instances where there isn’t a test station at the border, for example, some land borders, or in the event of queues, some travellers will be sent home with rapid antigen tests.

Arrivals who aren’t fully vaccinated, have not recovered from coronavirus within the last half a year or do not have an approved health pass will also need to quarantine. 

The quarantine period is set at ten days. However, you can end quarantine after returning a negative PCR test taken no sooner than three days after arrival. This means, typically, you can expect an isolation period of around five to six days, depending on the length of time it takes to process your test.

Quarantine hotels are not mandatory, and you can spend the isolation period at home provided you have access to a private room and can social distance. 

What are the Covid-19 rules? 

Currently, there are several measures in place that will impact people visiting the country. You will need to social distance and wear a face mask in shops, restaurants and other venues, on public transport, in taxis and shopping centres.

READ ALSO: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas? 

Furthermore, the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants is prohibited nationwide, meaning you won’t be able to have a glass of wine while eating out, for example. A more significant knock-on effect of this is that several businesses may choose to close their doors entirely as the company is not profitable without the sale of alcohol.

This will make it harder to find a place to eat, especially during the week. Restaurants also have to register guests’ contact information in case there is a Covid outbreak, meaning there is a possibility you may need to isolate after being identified as a close contact by contact tracers. This could throw a spanner in the works of any plans to travel home. 

Being contact traced could present a problem for visitors, even if they are vaccinated, as there are no exemptions for being jabbed. 

READ ALSO: What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?

There is also a recommendation that gatherings are limited to 10 guests (20 are allowed on Christmas Eve or one party), although this isn’t legally binding. 

Covid-19 health passes certificates aren’t currently being used, but municipalities have the power to implement them. Ski lifts and winter sports activities remain open. 

The measures will be in place until mid-January but could be tightened further if the situation requires. 

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”