With files from the Associated Press
All foreign arrivals apart from travelers on essential journeys will be banned from entering Norway as of midnight on Friday, in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19 variants, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Wednesday.
“In practice, the border will be closed to anyone not living in Norway,” Solberg told a news conference. She also promised that border controls, virus testing and quarantining would be more strictly enforced.
The few exceptions to the travel shutdown include Swedish and Finnish workers in the Norwegian health service, as well as those in key sectors such as haulage.
However most foreign workers will be banned from entering Norway, the PM said.
Under the country’s existing rules, arrivals from countries designated as high-risk by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) are tested for Covid-19 and must quarantine at a hotel for 10 days if they don’t live in Norway.
Solberg also thanked Norwegians for broadly adhering to the existing health measures after the country’s virus reproduction (R) number dropped to 0.6 this week, with cases down 56 percent from a fortnight ago.
On Sunday, the Norwegian government extended the lockdown of the capital region to include more municipalities, after the detection of the more transmissible B117 variant of Covid-19, first discovered in the UK late last year.
As of Wednesday, Norway has registered 135 cases of the UK variant, as well as two cases of another strain of the virus from South Africa, according to the NIPH.