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Norwegian skis back from Sweden to avoid quarantine restrictions

A Norwegian who tried to ski around his country's virus quarantine system by skiing back from Sweden had to be rescued after bad weather thwarted his expedition, emergency services said on Monday.

Norwegian skis back from Sweden to avoid quarantine restrictions
View of the mountains in Åre, Sweden (archive). (Photo by OLIVIER MORIN / AFP)

“He wanted to return to Norway to get hold of some documents, and then go back into Sweden, where he has a construction project on the go,” Trond Helge Ronning of rescue group Norske Folkehjelp told AFP.

“But to avoid the quarantine, he decided to cross the border over the mountains,” said Ronning from Tydal, a village near the border with Sweden.

In all, it would have been a 40-kilometre (25-mile) journey over difficult terrain, he said.

But the adventurer, who is in his 50s, ran into bad weather after 25 kilometres of his trek on Saturday.

A local reindeer breeder rescued him, handing him over to two fishermen at a nearby lake, who looked after him until the rescue services arrived, said Ronning.

“He was soaked through and he was cold,” as well as being annoyed and unapologetic, said the rescue worker.

The rescue services took care of him — before handing him over to police for having violated the coronavirus quarantine rules.

Local police told AFP that the man should have got a negative Covid test to present to the authorities before making the crossing — and then spent 10 days in quarantine in a hotel.

“That’s valid even for a Norwegian citizen,” said a senior police official in the Trondelag district.

The man will now have to sit out his hotel quarantine before interviewed by officers.

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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