Norway to Close Borders to All But Essential Travel Due to COVID-19 Variant Outbreak

Norway will close its borders to all but essential travelers on Jan. 29 in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced.

“With the more contagious variant of the coronavirus now spreading, we find it necessary to introduce the most severe entry restrictions we have had since March of last year,” Solberg said at a news conference in Oslo on Jan. 27.

“In practice, the border will be closed to anyone not living in Norway,” Solberg said.

Solberg cited that the U.K. variant “has spread significantly in many countries that do not monitor the extent of mutations in the same way as Norway, Denmark, and Britain do.”

Already having some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe, Norway has further tightened its entry rules, barring foreign nationals access to the country with exemptions for some “critical” groups.

Foreign nationals included in the exemptions are health personnel from Sweden and Finland working in Norway, people who transport goods, and journalists and media personnel.

The travel restrictions will last for two weeks. During that time, the Norwegian government will review the measure.

The government said that the restrictions follow recommendations from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

The announcement comes days after the Nordic country announced a lockdown of its capital region last Jan. 23 due to an outbreak of the U.K. variant, requiring non-essential shops and services in and around Oslo to close until Feb. 4.

The outbreak prompted Sweden and Finland to close its borders with Norway.

According to data from NIPH, Norway has recorded a total of 61,594 cases and 556 deaths since the pandemic began.

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