COVID-19: Norway to test all visitors at border

The Norwegian government announced on Wednesday that it intends to test all newcomers for COVID-19 at the border instead of up to 24 hours after their arrival. This is due to the suspected avoidance of tests by, among others, travellers from Poland.

As of January 2, people arriving in Norway can choose either to be tested at the border or at their place of residence up to 24 hours after their arrival. However, according to the media, this system is easy to circumvent, hence the new government proposal. "We want everyone who comes to Norway to be tested and therefore we are working on increasing the testing capacity at border crossing points," said Norway's Justice Minister Monica Maeland.

The newspaper "VG" reported that between January 2-7 at Gardermoen airport in Oslo at least 6,200 people (42 percent), including those from several planes from Poland and Lithuania, did not undergo tests at the airport. As VG reports, the whole system is based on trust, because the municipalities to which travellers go do not have the possibility to check whether these people have undergone the tests within 24 hours. According to Norwegian law, failure to comply with this obligation is punishable by a fine of NOK 20,000 (EUR 1,940).

Until the increase in test capacity at the borders, Maeland said, the government will launch a national call centre in which operators in several languages ​​will help municipalities track travellers.

In the first week of January, 4,758 cases of the coronavirus were reported in Norway. In Bergen, 36 percent of people coming from abroad were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. In Oslo, the rate was 13 percent.

Over the weekend, the government of Norway is to decide whether the severe restrictions in force until January 19 will be extended.

To date, 25,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in Norway, representing 0.5 percent of the population. The royal family was vaccinated on Wednesday.