Travel could resume
May be possible to open borders sometime in May
A senior official from the Norwegian Directorate of Public Health (NIPH) has expressed optimism over the return of travel before the end of the spring.
Residents older than 45 in Norway will have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by May, according to the current schedule for vaccination.
That would provide for a safe easing of the country’s travel restrictions, Geir Bukholm, director of infection control with the health authority, told VG.
“I would assume that we can begin to ease (restrictions) when risk groups have been vaccinated,” Bukholm told the newspaper.
That means at least one dose will have been given to everyone older than 45, a stage which will have been reached sometime in May, VG reports.
“It will gradually be possible to open the borders and have normal tourist traffic … That could happen at the end of May, although I cannot be completely sure about it,” Bukholm said.
Norway’s vaccination program is currently progressing relatively slowly, although the country has distributed roughly the same number of vaccines per 100 inhabitants as most countries in the European Union (EU), according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
Norway is a participant in the EU’s procurement plan for COVID-19 vaccines.
“We will get a lot of supplies in May and June. It will be an almost exponential increase. From having vaccinated a relatively small proportion of the population, we’ll have vaccinated almost everyone within the space of two months,” Bukholm said, adding that it “looks like (vaccine suppliers) Pfizer and AstraZeneca are delivering as planned.”
The NIPH is currently working with the Norwegian Directorate of Health on a plan for reopening, which is expected to be handed to the government later this month.
Optimism about a timeline for reopening should be tempered by the possibilities of potential delays related to various factors, Bukholm also noted.
“There are many factors we don’t have control of: we don’t know the effect of virus variants going forward, for example. If we relax [restrictions] too early and allow the epidemic to run wild, we’ll get a lot of sick people in the [age] group down to 45 years,” he said.
This article originally appeared in the March 12, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.