Norway to introduce mandatory COVID tests for new arrivals, closes some entry points

FILE PHOTO: Germra Schneider tests a person in a car outside an emergency department in Sandvika, Norway March 2, 2020. Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) - All travellers entering Norway will have to take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival from Jan. 2, the country’s justice ministry said on Thursday.

To stop the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in Britain, travellers from any point of origin will need to enter Norway at designated entry points where testing is available, with smaller border crossings to be closed, it added.

“If this strain should spread in Norway, it will probably mean a full lockdown of society,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in the statement.

Norway followed the lead from other European nations and halted travel from Britain on Dec. 21 after news that the new variant was rapidly spreading. The travel ban will last at least until Jan 2.

Norway’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was down to 113.6 as of Wednesday, the fourth lowest in Europe behind Iceland, Greece, and Finland, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Reporting by Nora Buli and Victoria Klesty; Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Jan Harvey