The Norwegian government has stopped all direct flight arrivals from the UK with immediate effect.
In a press release issued this morning, the Norwegian government has announced a travel ban on direct flights from the UK due to the emergence of a new strain of the coronavirus.
The new mutation identified in the UK is believed to be 70% more contagious than the original.
Flight ban comes into effect immediately
Two Widerøe flights from Aberdeen to Bergen scheduled for today (Monday) have already been cancelled. Two other scheduled flights from London to Oslo are expected to be cancelled following the ruling.
The measure comes just hours after European countries Italy, Germany and Ireland announced a ban on flight arrivals. Many other countries did the same, although Norway initially only strengthened its quarantine procedures.
Read more: Coronavirus in Norway
The measure is initially valid for just two days, but can be extended. This seems likely, given that many other countries' travel bans are for longer. Several other measures are being tightened for travellers from the UK. UPDATE 31 DEC: As expected, the flight ban continues to be extended. It is now valid to 5pm on 2 January, 2021.
Christmas & New Year heartache for travellers
The flight ban is likely to cause Christmas heartache for many Brits living in Norway who were planning to head home for the holidays and are now unsure about their return journey. Norwegians living in the UK will also now struggle to make it home.
Read more: Christmas in Norway 2020
“We must ensure that the virus variant that has been detected in the UK spreads to Norway as little as possible. That is why we are now stopping direct flights from the UK and tightening measures for travellers from this area. This is in line with advice we have received from the Norwegian Directorate of Health,” said Norway's Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
Høie said the additional measures were considered this morning, and had been continuously assessed by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the National Institute of Public Health (FHI) over the past 24 hours.
Other measures for travellers from the UK
In addition to stopping flights, several measures will be introduced for travelers from the UK until 10 January. The main rule about quarantine for 10 days still applies. In addition, there are requirements for:
- PCR test (Covid 19 test) within 24 hours of arrival in Norway and then a new test at the earliest on day 7 after entry from the UK
- PCR test as soon as possible for travellers who have come to Norway from the UK in the last 2 weeks
- Arrival registration requirement
- Requirement to notify the municipality where the traveller is to stay
- The current exemption from entry quarantine does not apply to travelers from the UK, with the exception of certain provisions
Has the new virus strain reached Norway?
On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new mutation. Health Minister Matt Hancock followed up on Sunday, saying the situation was getting out of control.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health wants to find out whether the new, more contagious virus variant found in the UK has arrived in Norway.
According to Aftenposten, 2,771 passengers have arrived in Norway from the UK in the last two weeks. But there may be many more that have arrived on connecting flights via Denmark or the Netherlands.
“We ask that everyone who has been in the UK during the last 14 days, and those who now arrive in Norway, get themselves tested,” said the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s Johan Torgersen.