UPDATED 13 JUNE: Norway relaxes some coronavirus restrictions but it's still difficult to visit the country at this stage. A digital Covid certificate has been launched initially for use by residents of Norway.
It's hard to believe I've been keeping this page updated for a year now. When Norway's first peacetime nationwide lockdown was introduced in March 2020, I don't think many of us thought we would be in this position a year later.
I'm getting a lot of emails from people asking questions about COVID-19 in Norway. I don't have the capacity—or the authority, for that matter—to answer personal questions, so I've put together this page with everything I do know.
I'm trying to keep this page updated at least twice a week. However, this is a fast-moving situation, so do check the various links to official sources that I have included throughout the article for the very latest information.
Before asking personal questions in the comments, please understand that I don't have any additional information. In particular, asking me when the borders will open is pointless.
The latest infection numbers in Norway
Norway's numbers are lower than many other European countries. However, recent new strains of the virus have concerned Norwegian authorities. In early March, the capital city recorded a new daily high for positive test results.
There have been 127,986 positive cases in Norway at the time of writing, with 789 people now confirmed dead. There are 47 people hospitalised around the country, of which 16 are in intensive care.
Around Norway: All of Norway's counties have recorded at least 1,600 positive test results. The most are in Viken (42,934), followed by Oslo (36,542), Vestland (9,839), Vestfold & Telemark (8,424) and Rogaland (6,761).
So far, Nordland (1,621), Møre og Romsdal (2,079) and Troms og Finnmark (2,178) have recorded the fewest positive test results.
The latest measures in Norway
On 27 May, Norway entered the next phase of reopening, detailed here in Norwegian.
“We see that the infection rates are stable and that hospital admissions are declining. Vaccination is going according to plan. It is, therefore, justifiable to proceed with the reopening of Norway,” said Solberg at a press conference.
Read more: Who Can Visit Scandinavia In June 2021?
Among other new rules, people can have up to ten visitors in their homes, up from five previously. There will also be more in-person teaching at schools and universities.
Alcohol can be served until midnight, without the requirement for food to be ordered. This is a major change and will no doubt provide a boost to Norway's bars and pubs.
Bear in mind that local restrictions are in place in some areas, especially the bigger cities. I strongly advise you to check local restrictions on the website of your local kommune (municipality), especially in Oslo and Trondheim.
The latest on travel, border & quarantine restrictions
The Norwegian border remains closed to many non-residents in a bid to halt the further spread of coronavirus variants into Norway. However, on 21 May, Erna Solberg announced some easing of measures for U.K. and EU/EEA citizens.
Those travelling from the U.K. and EU/EEA countries where infections are low enough will no longer be required to serve their quarantine period in a quarantine hotel. This essentially is a return to the previous system in place earlier this year.
People coming from other parts of the world will still have to stay in a quarantine hotel for 10 days. As before, a negative test will allow this period to be shortened to seven days.
For those who can travel, a recent negative Covid-19 test certificate is required upon arrival. Domestic air travel is possible, but many routes remain limited.
I have now published an article all about the Norway travel restrictions to try and detail these in full.
I keep getting emails asking when the border will be back open for non-Europeans. Please understand that I have no more information other than what is written here and in the other article. Please don't ask me to guess.
Norway's reopening plan
On 7 April, Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg announced a four-step plan to reopen the country. The plan will be enacted based on a review of infection numbers, healthcare capacity and vaccination progress.
Following this plan, Solberg has announced plans for a so-called vaccine passport or digital certificate. When implemented, this should enable the four-phase plan to be fast-tracked.
The digital record will show proof of identity, test status, vaccine status plus any immunity. It will be used for events and travel. Precise details of implementation are not yet available, but Solberg hopes it will be ready by early June.
Norway’s vaccination process
Approximately 3.06 million doses have been delivered to Norway to date.
As of 11 June, 3.25 million vaccine doses have been administered in Norway. 35.79% of the population have received at least one dose, with 24.58% now fully vaccinated.
On 12 May, the Norwegian government confirmed it is dropping the AstraZeneca vaccine from the program, two months after it was suspended over blood clot fears.
The government has also announced a change in prioritisation for vaccines. Once everyone over 45 has received the vaccine, those in the age group 18-24 will be next in line.
Coronavirus in Norway: The story so far
The first coronavirus case in Norway was registered in a resident of Tromsø on 26 February.
The individual had recently returned from China. They were not seriously ill and were placed under home quarantine. Many of the early cases were then recorded in the Oslo region, including six employees of the eye department at Oslo’s Ullevaal Hospital.
In the early days of the outbreak in Norway, the majority of people who have tested positive were either infected abroad or are close contacts of someone who was. In most cases, the infected person had returned from an area of Europe with a major outbreak, such as northern Italy.
Read more: Healthcare in Norway
However, that soon changed and the proportion of infections passed on in Norway or with no known source increased rapidly.
Just a couple of weeks after the first known infection in Norway, the Norwegian government took drastic steps. They introduced the strictest emergency measures ever seen outside of wartime.
Previously, Norway's Directorate of Health said there were plans in place that would cover a scenario whereby up to 25% of Norway's population became infected. In this scenario, other hospital treatment would have to be postponed to enable hundreds of thousands of additional patients to be treated.
With the number of cases increasing rapidly, the government introduced emergency measures to try and stem the spread of the virus. All educational establishments were closed, along with many workplaces, many shops, bars, restaurants, pubs and other public services. Supermarkets and pharmacies were among the few businesses to remain open.
What to do if you experience symptoms
In Norway: Do not call 113. In the first instance, you can call a health information line on 815 55 015. If you believe you are infected, call your GP. Do not visit the doctor's office in person. Only if you cannot contact your GP, call the emergency room (legevakt) at 116 117.
The capacity for testing is now greatly increased. Many municipalities have started drop-in test centres with results typically available within 24-48 hours. However for those without their own transport, home testing is also an option. See the website of your local municipality or refer to your GP for more information.
Coronavirus around the world
The new virus was first discovered in Wuhan, China at the end of December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread around the world. According to figures from the World Health Organization, 176.4 million cases and 3,811,007 deaths have been reported so far.
The virus has hit hard in the USA, where more than 614,500 deaths have been reported. The UK (127,500) and Italy (126,500) are the hardest-hit countries in Europe. Brazil (486,000), India (370,000) and Mexico (230,000) are also badly hit.
What is coronavirus?
According to the WHO, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are transmitted between animals and people, and there are several known types that have not yet infected humans. The current outbreak concerns COVID-19.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
Standard precautions from the WHO include regular hand washing, covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and thoroughly cooking all meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.