France-Norway passengers quarantined after flight lands seconds past midnight

France-Norway passengers quarantined after flight lands seconds past midnight
File photo: AFP
A Scandinavian Airlines flight from Nice to Oslo on Friday evening landed a few seconds after midnight, resulting in a ten-day quarantine for the 158 passengers on board.

Flight SK4700, which was scheduled to arrive at 00:10, was in fact early, but – by the tiniest of margins – not enough for passengers to avoid the cut-off for Norway’s newly-introduced quarantine rules for French arrivals.

France last week joined Norway’s increasingly long list of EEA and Schengen countries designated as ‘red’, or not recommended for leisure travel, due to increasing numbers of new coronavirus infections.

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People arriving in Norway from ‘red’ countries are required to spend ten days in quarantine. The measure was applied to France from midnight on Friday night-Saturday morning.

In Norway, 'home quarantine' including for people arriving from 'red' countries means that person is asked to stay home from school or work, not have visitors, not use public transport and only visit shops or pharmacies if strictly necessary, and not at all if it is not possible to maintain social distance. You may have normal contact with people you live with, who are not in quarantine. You are also allowed to go outside for a walk if you maintain a one-metre distance from others at all times.

If you later suspect you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must isolate yourself completely and get tested for the virus. More details can be found on the health authority website.

The timing of the SAS flight was previously reported by Swiss media 20 minuten and Norway’s Dagbladet. The latter media reports passengers on board the flight applauding the 00:00 landing in Oslo.

The plane officially touched down at 00:00am plus a few seconds, according to Oslo airport operator Avinor, meaning quarantine for the 158 passengers on board the flight.

“We can confirm that the aircraft landed ten minutes before the expected time. I must refer to health authorities regarding what this means for quarantine and other guidelines,” SAS press contact Tonje Sund told Dagbladet on Saturday.

The Norwegian health ministry later confirmed the passengers would be required to follow the quarantine rule.

The change of quarantine rule with regard to France came at short notice, given Norway’s health authority NIPH did not mention France when making recommendations to the government over likely new ‘red’ countries at the beginning of last week.

As such, it is possible that passengers on the flight who were returning to Norway after holidaying in France would have left when the country was ‘green’ and with little expectation for it to become ‘red’ while they were away.

In comments to Dagbladet, Monica Møhncke, a Norwegian passenger on the flight, said that “even if we landed before midnight, we would have been in quarantine for a few days anyway while waiting to be tested”.

People arriving in Norway from ‘red’ countries are not obliged to take Covid-19 tests, but health minister Bent Høie has said it is “extremely important” they get a test if they experience possible symptoms of the virus.

This article was updated on August 17th, 2020 with an outline of Norway's home quarantine guidelines.

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