On Monday, the Minister of Health received a recommendation to change the quarantine rules for the cabin people. Four days later, the case was put on hold.
The Norwegian cabin ban lasted a few weeks. For owners of holiday properties on the other side of the border, the restrictions still apply.
If they travel to the cabin, they must be quarantined for ten days when they return to Norway. The only exception is to perform strictly necessary maintenance. The exception only applies if they do not stay overnight.
Earlier this week, government advisers said the quarantine exemption should be extended to this group. It shows a recommendation Aftenposten has had access to.
On Monday, the letter ended up on the table to Minister of Health Bent Høie. There, both the Norwegian Directorate of Health and FHI supported new rules that will make it much easier for cottage owners to visit the property across the border.
But now an uncertain infection situation means that the case is put on hold.
Must assess the development of infection
For the 12,416 Norwegians who have holiday homes in Sweden, frustration has increased through the pandemic. The relief they have been waiting for has not materialized.
The letter, which was sent from the Norwegian Directorate of Health on Monday, brought them one step closer to hope. But on Friday a lot happened.
At 10.46, the Ministry of Health and Care Services sent a letter to the directorate. They requested a new assessment in the light of recent developments.
Then the Norwegian Directorate of Health called for a meeting with NIPH. The conclusion was that the case is put on hold for a while.
– We asked the ministry to put the case on hold until we get a slightly better overview. FHI is now working closely with us to look at the new infection rates. We make an assessment over the weekend about how the development is now and where the infection takes place. Based on what we will then give a new recommendation about the time when our advice should be considered, says health director Bjørn Guldvog.
The recommendation is not rejected
When Aftenposten earlier on Friday afternoon had access to the recommendation that had been sent earlier this week, the Ministry of Health was contacted. A couple of hours later, senior adviser Andreas Keus in the communications department called. The message from there was that the recommendation had been withdrawn by the Norwegian Directorate of Health due to a changed infection situation.
That’s not entirely true. The recommendation lives on, but progress has been temporarily halted.
– Is it first and foremost the time or the content of the recommendation you must consider?
– That’s the time. Then we have to make reservations if something urgent happens now, which means that we have to consider differently in the future, says Guldvog.
The health authorities perceive the situation as confusing.
– We want to get a better overview. Things are happening both in Norway and in all the Nordic countries at the same time.
In Norway, infection rates have skyrocketed, and stricter measures have been introduced. The rest of the Nordic region is also tightening sharply. In several places in Sweden, people are asked to avoid shops and malls.
Therefore, the health leaders want to be more confident about what is happening, before Norway goes ahead with new adjustments.
This was the advice
In the recommendation, the government was advised to make these changes:
- The requirement not to stay overnight is removed and replaced with a time limit of 72 hours.
- The provision can be extended to apply to the Nordic countries.
- The requirement that the purpose of the trip is to perform strictly necessary maintenance and inspection
to prevent major material damage to real estate, boats, caravans and the like,
It is professionally justifiable to allow for time-limited stays, FHI summed up. The prerequisite is that you do not take public transport and avoid close contact with others than those you live with.
They point out that poor compliance with the requirements can increase the risk of import infection to Norway.
Both the Norwegian Directorate of Health and NIPH believe that accommodation does not increase the risk of infection as long as you are not in contact with others outside your own household. However, they consider that the longer the stay, the greater the probability that one must be in contact with the local population. Therefore, they proposed a time limit.
In the letter, the Norwegian Directorate of Health once again emphasizes that the main rule on entry quarantine of ten days has a clear medical professional justification. FHI, however, questions whether the quarantine requirement for the cabin people is “proportionate”. When the measures are not perceived as relevant or necessary, support can fall, they point out.
«Entry quarantines should be targeted at people who have been exposed to infection, e.g. after having had close contact with others than those they live with in a country with a high incidence of infection “, writes FHI.
Was downgraded before the summer
Many cottage owners feel unfairly treated. Several of them have threatened to sue the state.
When the government opened for travel before the summer, they experienced being downgraded. Travelers in the Nordic countries in general were put in front.
FHI then believed that in isolation it was justifiable to let the cottage owners drop the quarantine, but they did not assess the risk of infection against the other alternatives. The government thought the risk would be too high by opening up for both.
In August, the cottage owners again became a topic among the advisors. At that time, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and NIPH thought that it would be justifiable to let them spend the night provided they stayed away from others. Bent Høie made it clear that this did not imply a recommendation to change the rules.
On 1 October, the ministry asked the advisers to consider this exception in particular. The answer came on Monday and consisted of a recommendation to change the rules. But on Friday, the case was put on hold.
Here you can read the assessments from the experts:
The Norwegian Directorate of Health’s recommendation 26 October.
FHIs vurdering 23. oktober.