Europe slowly eases lockdown restrictions, Norway stays stubbornly shut

OSLO: Bettina Wintermark said “I believe I’ll never see her alive again” worrying that her adopted country Norway’s pandemic travel ban means she won’t be able to make one last visit to her dying mother in France.

The Scandinavian country which brought coronavirus under control the fastest has ignored plans to lift or ease it travel restrictions making it the most closed nation in Europe.

Most non-residents are still not allowed to enter the country while foreign travel is not forbidden for Norwegians, the 10-day quarantine requirement upon return to Norway it still to be followed until August 20 which makes travel aboard exorbitant.

For some, the government’s cautious act has some serious consequences.
Like for Wintermark who isn’t allowed to travel to the southwestern French city of Bordeaux which a a two-hour flight from Oslo to see her 86-year-old mother who has suffered an internal haemorrhage and whom doctors have given weeks to live.

Other Problems

According to a 59-year-old hairdresser, these rules are a nightmare.

She says “If Norway didn’t have these strict restrictions I would have immediately left. But it’s impossible to make short trips to France because I can’t go into 10-days quarantine each time.”

Some people had their son’s wedding which was planned on July 20 in Bordeaux but it got postponed due to the pandemic.

Many people were invited to the wedding. Many of them were coming from Norway and had their hotels and tickets booked and now they are having a hard time getting it reimbursed.”

Justice Minister Monic Maeland admitted that “A lot of people are sad and frustrated as they were tasked with coordinating the country’s virus response.”

Last week she said, “We’re not doing this to annoy people but because we have to keep the situation under control.”

In other places like Norway which is not an EU member but does belong to the Schengen zone of free movement has agreed to allow travel to Denmark, Finland and Iceland from 15 July.

Sweden taking its approach
  
The tourism industry has relaxed their restrictions for Germany which get almost a quarter of foreign minister each summer.

The head of national tourism association Norsk Reiseliv said: “Reopening to this country would be the best recovery plan for Norway’s tourism sector, without it costing authorities a cent.”

On the hand, Norwegians are still advised against travelling to and from neighbouring Sweden, which adopted a softer approach to the virus and still has a high infection rate but they are still allowed to visit the island of Gotland which has not a lot of cases.

Thunders Einar Rudaa created a Facebook group which has now more than 6000 irritated members in which she said: “Most of the cabins are isolated in the woods or by the water, you don’t see anyone and so you’re much safer than in Oslo, where the beaches are packed.”
In a sign of boiling anger among the normal law-abiding population, 5.4% of Norwegians say they plan to neglect the official recommendations and travel to al destinations advised against the authorities during this summer.

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