UPDATED 1 AUGUST: Although Norway is now open to more travellers, the last step in the reopening plan has been delayed for a second time.
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 137,714 positive cases in Norway at the time of writing, with 799 people now confirmed dead. There are 17 people hospitalised around the country, of which 6 are in intensive care. The hospitalised numbers are the lowest since September 2020.
Around Norway: All of Norway's counties have recorded at least 1,600 positive test results. The most are in Viken (44,991), followed by Oslo (38,042), Vestland (10,756), Vestfold & Telemark (9,089) and Rogaland (8,051).
So far, Nordland (1,875), Møre og Romsdal (2,439) and Troms og Finnmark (2,677) have recorded the fewest positive test results.
The latest measures in Norway
On 18 June, Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg announced the country would move into the third phase of reopening. This allowed for an increase in the number of house guests and bigger public events.
However, on 28 July, she announced that the plan to proceed to the fourth phase would be delayed for a second time. Step four will now not be implemented until at least mid-August. “The delta variant has become dominant as expected. It is uncertain how this will affect Norway,” clarified the health minister Bent Høie.
The latest recommendations include a maximum number of visitors to your home of 20. A slow return to physical presence at the workplace is permitted, although a part-time home office and/or flexible working hours are recommended.
Face masks are still recommended to be worn when social distancing is not possible. 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).
These are just some of the points. The full rules and recommendations are available on the government website in Norwegian.
The latest on travel, border & quarantine restrictions
The Norwegian border remains closed to some tourists, but more people are slowly being allowed entry. This includes fully-vaccinated travellers from EU/EEA countries. The EU vaccination certificate is accepted, meaning people who have had the disease in the last six months can also enter.
People from ‘green' countries in Europe can also freely enter Norway. On July 5, the list of green countries was significantly expanded.
Most people coming from other parts of the world are not permitted to enter Norway. Those who have an exception will still have to serve a quarantine period, some in a hotel. As before, a negative test will shorten this period.
The government has also expended the list of people who can get an exception to the entry ban. This includes family members and romantic partners from a selection of the EU third country list.
Read more: When Can Americans Visit Norway?
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 announced plans for a so-called vaccine passport or digital certificate. The digital record shows proof of test status, vaccine status plus any immunity through previous infection.
The certificate was launched in early June, but is only be available for use domestically in Norway and for Norwegian residents returning to the country. From 24 June, the EU vaccination certificate will be accepted.
On 5 July, Solberg announced that the fourth step in the reopening plan would be delayed. The government wants to assess the impact of the Delta virus variant over July before committing to a further loosening of national measures. On 28 July, the fourth step was delayed for a second time.
Norway’s vaccination process
Approximately 5.5 million doses have been delivered to Norway to date.
As of 30 July, 5.36 million vaccine doses have been administered in Norway. 66.13% of the population have received at least one dose, with 33.40% 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.
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, 198.5 million cases and 4,233,174 deaths have been reported so far.
The virus has hit hard in the USA, where more than 629,000 deaths have been reported. The UK (129,500) and Italy (128,000) are the hardest-hit countries in Europe. Brazil (556,000), India (424,000) and Mexico (240,500) 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.