Norway Travel Update: COVID-19 Vaccine Passports to Ease Travel Restrictions
It has been over a year since Norway closed its borders with its neighbouring countries to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Norwegian authorities issued a press release that border controls will continue to be effective in order for the authorities to check whether the travellers are permitted to enter Norway and if they should be subjected to quarantine hotels.
Currently, Norway has strict entry requirements for all travellers and only those listed on the exemption list are allowed to enter the territory.
With ongoing vaccination, there is hope that restrictions will be eased soon. According to ECDC’s data, as of 5 May, 31.7% of Norwegian residents have received the first shot of a coronavirus vaccine, with 8.4% being fully vaccinated.
COVID Vaccine Passport
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced that Norway will use digital COVID-19 certificates or “vaccine passports” to exempt people from infection control measures within the country and make travel to and from Norway easier.
At present, Norway’s entry restrictions remain strict with all non-urgent travel essentially banned. They will remain in effect until at least 24 May.
Hoping to launch the certificates in early June, Solberg said the process should accelerate Norway’s previously announced four-phase plan for reopening the country:
We want to make a certificate that can securely document who you are, whether you have been vaccinated, recently had a negative test, or have previously had the virus. We can use that to open up society more and earlier.Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg
Norway hopes to launch the digital certificates at the same time as or earlier than the EU’s proposed vaccine passport.
A preliminary version is already available to residents of Norway in both English and Norwegian at helsenorge.no. However, Solberg said the initial system lacks “verifiable proof” and so cannot yet be used for the purposes of avoiding infection control measures.
The digital certificates should also enable larger public events to take place earlier than planned. A maximum of 200 people have been permitted at events for the vast majority of time since pandemic-related restrictions first came into force in March 2020.
However, culture minister Abid Raja said the government may need an additional legal basis for the practical implementation of such a scheme.
While the hope is for international travel restrictions to be eased, that remains dependent on the EU’s plans for its own EU-wide vaccine passports.
In regards to travel, we must see how it works within the context of the EU’s own plans. When we reopen borders, we must have a system we can trust, where people cannot cheat and present false documentation.Prime Minister Erna Solberg
It’s not clear whether vaccinated individuals from non-EU member states such as the US or UK would be able to enter Norway once the system launches. However, Solberg’s comments along with previous press conferences hint that travellers from EU states will be prioritized in the border reopening plan.
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