Streets all over Oslo and Norway will be quiet for the next 14 days as drastic measures are … [+]
International travelers planning a trip to Norway within the next 14 days should think again following drastic action announced by the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg today. The government has acted quickly following a rapid increase in the positive cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The series of measures that came into effect at 6pm CET on March 12 means that Norway is essentially on lockdown. Visit Norway confirms that international travelers who come to Norway risk facing a mandatory 14-day quarantine, regardless of their health.
The country is effectively closed
For the next two weeks, kindergartens, schools, colleges and universities are all closed. All restaurants are closed with the exception of those that can keep patrons at least one metre apart. Buffets are not allowed. Cultural events, sporting fixtures, most bars and pubs, swimming pools and gyms are closed. The vast majority of tourist attractions including ski resorts and museums are closed. Supermarkets and pharmacies are permitted to remain open, however.
While March is not high season for cruising, passengers on the few cruise ships currently plying the Norwegian fjords and coastline are facing mounting problems. As reported yesterday,
Arrivals face quarantine
In what was the most surprising announcement of the day, the Prime Minister also revealed that anyone arriving in the country from outside the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) will face a mandatory 14-day home quarantine. This applies to anyone arriving in Norway since February 27, a rule that has instantly placed thousands of Norwegians in home quarantine.
Many will ask how the country’s authorities plan on enforcing a home quarantine. That’s a valid question. Avinor, Norway’s biggest airport operator, currently states that there are “no entry checks in Norway,” but this is a fast-moving situation and it’s advisable to check the latest news regularly if you are planning to travel.
However, any tourist flouting the quarantine requirement in order to visit Norway runs the risk of facing a similar measure when they return to their home country. Czech Republic and Vietnam are among the countries to have banned arrivals from high-risk countries that now includes Norway.
SAS and Norwegian cancel thousands of flights
There’s also a big issue getting in and out of the country at all. SAS announced 2,000 cancellations during March, while Norwegian was forced to cut 3,000 flights between mid-March and mid-June, a figure that has since increased. The troubled airline has lost 80% of its value on the Oslo Stock Exchange in under two months and now faces a battle for survival.
While the Norwegian government has confirmed that domestic travel will remain operational, they strongly discourage all leisure travel.
Norway now considered high-risk by many
Although barely mentioned in global media, the spread of the virus in Norway has been one of the fastest in Europe. Although no-one has yet died, there are more than 700 confirmed cases among the population of 5.3 million. The infection rate has soared in the last 48 hours, prompting these drastic measures by the Norwegian authorities.
The new measures are in place until March 26, 2020. If you are currently traveling in Norway and have questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19), you can call the national information line at +47 815 55 015.