March 15, 2020 / 10:34 AM / 24 days ago

Norway says its airports remain open to returning citizens, residents

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is putting limits on who can enter the country but not shutting its ports and airports completely, the justice ministry said on Sunday, seeking to clarify earlier statements by the prime minister on measures to deal with the coronavirus.

During a news conference and in a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said her government had decided to “shut our airports, close our ports” amid efforts to control the virus.

Solberg had added that Norwegians would be allowed to return home, and that goods would still be allowed to flow.

The ministry on Sunday clarified that Norway is introducing temporary entry and exit controls.

“Norwegian airports are not closing... all Norwegian citizens and persons who live or work in Norway will continue to be let into the country.”

Citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and their families who reside in Norway or work there, may also enter.

The EEA consists of the European Union as well as EU outsiders Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

“Aircraft from abroad will be landing at Norwegian airports in the coming week, allowing Norwegians to get home ... airports will be open for international flights enabling tourists/foreign nationals to travel out,” the ministry said.

Separately, state-owned airport operator Avinor said domestic air travel would continue, while the Oslo Port Authority said restrictions on its operations only applied to international passenger traffic.

More countries have shut their borders and imposed restrictions on people’s movements to prevent the spread of the virus, which had already infected more than 150,000 and caused 5,800 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Norway’s northern Tromsoe municipality said on Sunday it would require people coming from areas in southern Norway, which are the most affected by the virus outbreak, including the capital Oslo, to stay in quarantine for two weeks.

The Nordic country reported its second and third coronavirus related deaths on Saturday, with more than 950 infected.

Reporting by Nerijus Adomaitis and Terje Solsvik

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