Coronavirus: Sweden excluded as neighbours Denmark and Norway ease tourism restrictions

Sweden's death rate per capita from Covid-19 is many times higher than the combined figure of the other Nordic countries.
Sweden's death rate per capita from Covid-19 is many times higher than the combined figure of the other Nordic countries.PHOTO: AFP

OSLO/ COPENHAGEN • Norway and Denmark will allow tourists to travel between the two countries from mid-June, their governments announced on Friday, although border crossings with Sweden - where the number of Covid-19 infections is higher - will remain restricted.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in separate news conferences that most restrictions related to travel between the two countries would end on June 15.

"We can't open too suddenly, that would jeopardise everything we've accomplished," Ms Solberg said.

All foreign visitors to Denmark will need to book at least six nights of accommodation before arriving and they will not be allowed to stay in the capital Copenhagen, where most of the country's coronavirus infections are.

"The ban on stays for tourists in Copenhagen is about keeping the intensity" of the virus spread down, Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup said. "We must avoid a super spread," he added.

Optional screening tests for Covid-19 will be offered upon entry and at holiday destinations.

Denmark will also welcome tourists from Germany and Iceland.

Last year, Germans accounted for nearly 60 per cent of all foreign visitors to Denmark, in terms of hotel nights.

Norwegians, many of whom have second homes in Denmark, accounted for 8 per cent.

However, tourists from Sweden will still not be able to visit.

Sweden's death rate per capita from Covid-19 is many times higher than the combined figure of the other Nordic countries.

Sweden has 430 deaths per million people whereas Norway has recorded only 43 deaths per million people. Other neighbouring Nordic countries such as Denmark has 98 deaths per million people, Finland 56 and Iceland 29.

"We are looking at the possibility of regional solutions, for example, opening up the Oresund region," Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said at a news conference on Friday, adding that she had been in contact with the Danish foreign minister.

Meanwhile, Sweden has advised all its citizens against travelling abroad until July 15.

Last Tuesday, Ms Linde said excluding Sweden from moves to open borders across the Nordic region would be a political decision and not justifiable on health grounds.

She added that the Covid-19 spread and death rate were higher in the Copenhagen area than in the Swedish region Skane that borders Denmark.

Thousands of people are also exempt from the travel restrictions, and commute daily between Denmark and southern Sweden.

Norway announced on Thursday it would allow business travel to resume across the Nordic region from tomorrow.

The idea of travel bubbles, or travel corridors, is gaining traction with governments around the world as a way to restart international travel as the pandemic eases.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 31, 2020, with the headline 'Sweden excluded as neighbours Denmark and Norway ease tourism restrictions'. Subscribe