Norway Opens Border To Most Nordic Countries, Sweden Restrictions Remain.

Norway Sweden

From June 15, people from low-risk areas in the Nordic countries will be permitted to enter Norway with no quarantine requirement. The latest relaxation of the coronavirus-related border restrictions was announced by the Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg at a press conference today.

Citizens of Denmark, Finland and Iceland will be welcome in Norway from June 15 without quarantine. Most citizens of Sweden remain excluded.

It now seems likely that travelers from other countries hoping to visit Norway this summer will be left disappointed. Norway’s justice minister Monica Mæland told VG that the plan remains to reopen to the Nordic region first, EEA countries second, and other countries third. An assessment on which European countries will be included will be made by July 25.

Solberg warned that everyone should expect travel restrictions to last for some time: “Let me emphasize, this is not just about where to spend the summer vacation. We must plan for travel restrictions to last for some time. There can be new outbreaks of infection in different places before there is a vaccine.”

Norway’s travel industry, having planned for a summer of only domestic tourism, may now receive a boost from additional Nordic visitors.

Sweden restrictions remain in place

The Norwegian government does not consider Sweden to fall into the low-risk category. Only residents of the Gotland region will be permitted to enter Norway for the time being. The travel advice also means that Norwegians are still discouraged from visiting Sweden. Gotland excepted, anyone returning from Sweden will have to undergo the 10-day quarantine period.

At the time of writing, Norway has recorded 242 deaths related to COVID-19, with just 10 of those coming since May 15. Sweden, with a population just double that of Norway’s—has recorded almost 4,854 deaths.

“I realize this is a big disappointment for some. But the restrictions are based on objective criteria that are the same for everyone,” added Solberg.

Other Swedish regions will be evaluated every 14 days. Health minister Bent Høie said that several other regions are very close to being included in the list of approved regions.

There is an exception for business travelers, however. Since June 1, business travelers have been allowed to enter Norway from all other Nordic countries—including Sweden—without a quarantine requirement.

Rules relaxed for families

In addition to the rules for tourists, Solberg announced several other measures for families. EEA citizens with immediate family (parents or children, but not siblings) living in Norway will be able to visit, although they will be subject to a 10-day home quarantine.

Also, anyone granted a residence permit on the basis of family immigration will be permitted to enter the country, regardless of their country of origin.

Approaches around the Nordic region

Previously, the governments of Norway and Denmark had agreed to allow their citizens to travel between the countries with no quarantine requirement. That deal, which was set to come into force on June 15 but with additional restrictions, is now superseded by today’s announcement.

Finland has also struck a border deal with several Nordic and Baltic countries, but also excluded Sweden. Prior to the announcements, Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde said any border deal excluding Sweden would be a political decision and not justifiable on health grounds.

Iceland has taken a different approach. From June 15, people arriving from within the Schengen Area will be permitted to enter the country. However, to avoid a 14-day quarantine, they will be required to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival. The test will be free for the first two weeks.

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