Norway allows Sweden and Finland’s commuters back to work

Day commuters from Sweden and Finland will be able to travel to work in Norway again from Monday 1st March, as long as they take a Covid-19 test every seven days.

Norway allows Sweden and Finland's commuters back to work
A man wearing a mask at Grønlandstation, Oslo. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB Scanpix / TT

After Norway tightened its entry regulations on 29th January, almost all workers from Sweden and Finland who commute daily to Norway have been prevented from going to work, with the exception of health workers and people transporting goods.

This has had significant consequences on a group of around 3000 people who have been unable to work.

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) now believes that a coronavirus test every seven days is sufficient to reduce the risk of infection for this group.

“The infection situation in Norway and in Europe means that we cannot open too much at a time, but it is good that we have now found a solution for this small group of day commuters who have been in a very difficult situation,” says Norway’s Justice Minister Monica Mæland.

Day commuting includes evening and night work, as long as you travel home after work. Commuters to Norway from Finland and Sweden will be exempt from entry quarantine during working hours if they are tested for the coronavirus every seven days.

Commuters must show their negative Covid-19 test taken during the last seven days upon entry. The test must have been taken in Norway, Sweden or Finland, and must have been taken before crossing the border.

Day commuters must also document residence in Sweden or Finland at the border control, and a certificate is required from a Norwegian employer confirming that they are day commuters, including information about place of work, working hours and that distance to home does not prevent day commuting. The individual employee must also register in the entry registration system prior to each entry.

“The government has now put in place a scheme that makes it possible for day commuters from Sweden and Finland to get to work in Norway. This is good news for those who commute”, says Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

The changes will take effect at midnight, the night before Monday 1st March.


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Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death.