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Norwegians urged to avoid travel abroad to limit virus

Gwladys Fouche and Nora Buli

Reuters

Oslo, Norway  /  Sat, August 8, 2020  /  06:05 pm
Norwegians urged to avoid travel abroad to limit virus

The Hurtigruten ship Roald Amundsen is moored on August 3, 2020 in Breivika, in Tromsø, northern Norway, following an outbreak of the novel coronavirus on board the ship. (NTB Scanpix/AFP/Terje Pedersen)

Norwegians should avoid all travel abroad, even to countries with few COVID-19 cases, to prevent a resurgence in the coronavirus, the health minister said on Friday.

"There is still little contamination in Norway but we see increased contamination in countries that used to have control over their situations," Bent Hoie told a news conference.

While not a member of the European Union, Norway belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone. It had some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic before gradually lifting them from June.

In another move, bars and restaurants may no longer serve alcohol after midnight, Hoie said.

Authorities would also issue fresh recommendations on wearing face masks on Aug. 14, he said. Norway and other Nordic countries, unlike many other European nations, are not currently mandating them in public spaces.

Read also: Norway hits cruises with restrictions after virus outbreak

The one exception, Hoie said, would be for people arriving from countries that Norway has placed on a ten-day quarantine, including France, Switzerland and Belgium.

Effective immediately, such travelers must wear face masks from the moment they cross the border, or arrive at the airport, until they reach their homes to start quarantine.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said authorities would put on hold a planned easing of restrictions and reimpose others to prevent a return to full lockdown.

With a population of 5.4 million, Norway has seen an increase in infections in recent days. It had a total of 9,468 cases as of Friday, up 59 from the day before, with 256 deaths, according to the Norwegian Public Health Institute.

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