World News

Norway to restrict travel from Spain, opens more to Sweden

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will re-impose a 10-day quarantine requirement for people arriving from Spain from Saturday after a surge in COVID-19 cases there, while it will ease restrictions on people coming from more counties of Sweden, the government said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Customs and police officers are seen at the border between Norway and Sweden, as Norway has introduced strict border control due to the coronavirus outbreak, in Svinesund, Norway March 16, 2020. Vidar Ruud/NTB Scanpix via REUTERS

Residents of the European Union, European Economic Area or Schengen countries with fewer than 20 confirmed cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last two weeks are able to enter Norway without being required to go into self-quarantine.

The latest data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) showed COVID-19 infections in Spain had risen to 30.9 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Olaug Bollestad, Norway’s minister of agriculture and food, who announced the government’s decision, said Norwegians should think hard before travelling abroad as countries marked “green” could quickly turn “red”, meaning a requirement for quarantine.

There were about 12,000 Norwegians on holiday in Spain, according to Norway’s public broadcaster NRK. Those who returning from Saturday onward will have to go into quarantine.

Budget airline Norwegian Air NORR.OL, which had to restructure its debts and seek financial support from the government after the pandemic shut down most air travel in March, said it was operating flights to Spain as normal.

“We’re still operating according to the previously announced schedule, so no changes. We’re continuing to monitor the situation closely,” a spokeswoman said in an email to Reuters.

In June, its passenger volumes were down 96.7% from a year ago as most of its fleet was grounded, but the company started more flights in July.

On July 15, Norway lifted quarantine requirement for more than 20 European countries, including Spain, as well as three of the 21 counties of neighbouring Sweden.

On Friday, Norway decided to lift quarantine requirements for an additional four Swedish counties, including Varmland, which heavily depends on cross-border trade.

Norwegian authorities also lifted quarantine requirements for people arriving from Hungary, but will keep them in place for Portugal, Luxembourg, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia.

Those countries had more than 20 infection cases per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the ECDC.

Norway had 9,085 confirmed cases and recorded 255 COVID-19 deaths by Friday.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis; Additional reporting by Nathan Allen in Madrid and Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alison Williams