COVID-19: Norway to close airports for international traffic

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has announced plans to restrict the entry of non-resident foreigners into its airports to limit the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Forbes quoted Solberg as saying: “These last days have been completely unreal for me and it has certainly been the same for all of you.

“This affects our everyday lives, our healthcare system and our economy. Many people feel that everyday life has been turned on its head. I thank everyone on the front line, in the healthcare system and everywhere else.”

However, she added that the country will not be able to close the border completely as Norway needs to import pharmaceuticals, food and other essential items.

On 13 March, Avinor announced its plans to temporarily suspend commercial traffic operations at its nine short-runway airports (STOL airports) from 18 March.

This move is expected to help in the transfer of personnel and equipment to other Norwegian airports.

Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen said: “Avinor’s employees will also be exposed to infection, be quarantined, or need to take care of their children or other persons in their care.

“To ensure that we have an operational network of airports, we are now freeing up resources in order to increase robustness at other airports, and with that, securing our operational capability over time

“We will organise transportation for passengers from affected airports to the nearest operational airport.”

Traffic from Vardø Airport will be redirected to Vadsø, Berlevåg to Båtsfjord, Sørkjosen to Tromsø, Stokmarknes to Andøya, Svolvær to Leknes or Evenes, Mo i Rana and Mosjøen to Sandnessjøen, Førde to Sogndal or Florø and Sandane to Ørsta/Volda or Florø.

In a similar move, Denmark has also closed its border to foreign travellers as of 14 March.

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 6,500 and infected more than 169,000 people worldwide.

Norway has reported 1,256 confirmed cases with three deaths so far.