Recently, both city councilor Raymond Johansen in Oslo and Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre have attacked the government’s handling of import infections. Now the Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Monica Mæland says the opposite.
– I have heard Støre talk about how easy it is to get away at Gardermoen, but it is not. Therefore, I invited the Labor leader before Easter to join Gardermoen, and I would like to invite both Støre and Johansen to Gardermoen again to show them what regime there is, with both barricades, security, information boards, testing and quarantine hotels, says Mæland to Dagbladet.
On Saturday, city councilor Raymond Johansen in Oslo told Dagbladet that he thinks that all unnecessary trips abroad should be banned. Mæland thinks this is extremely intrusive.
– I think it is extremely intrusive to refuse people to move across national borders. We have all the way had among Europe’s strictest rules related to entry, testing and quarantine. Everything we do must be proportionate and necessary.
Recently, Labor leader Jonas Gahr Støre told Aftenposten that the infection escapes through the airports due to lack of control.
Mæland points out that people must have tested themselves within 24 hours before arrival in Norway, test themselves when arriving in Norway, comply with rules related to quarantine, comply with rules related to quarantine hotels, and test themselves seven days after arrival. The Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness also says that it is her clear impression that the vast majority follow advice and rules.
– It has been created the impression that it is so easy to escape testing at the airport, but I do not think that travelers share that view. Enormous resources have been invested to ensure that no one escapes testing, says Mæland and continues:
– The travel business has plunged by 95 percent at Gardermoen after we introduced the strict restrictions. At the same time, there are some who commute daily, who have their own test regime. This concerns, among other things, health personnel in the municipalities, on whom they depend. It is also the case that children are not tested, as well as a few other people who have special conditions. But still 9 out of 10 of those who arrive at Gardermoen are tested.
Import infection was a contributing factor to the second wave of infection in Norway, and the fact that the British virus variant, which has driven the third wave of infection in Norway, was imported.
– Why have you not introduced stricter restrictions before?
– We could have had completely closed borders all the time, but it would not have been legal as the Infection Control Act sets requirements for necessity and proportionality. We can therefore not have as strict restrictions when the level of infection is low, says Mæland and continues:
– I see that a lot of energy is spent on hindsight. I also see that Støre when asked what he would have done differently, answers that it is a hypothetical question. But we live in a real situation and have no decision.
Second and third wave
Mæland explains the following about the prelude to the second wave of infection:
– As measures must be necessary and proportionate, we could not continue the strict restrictions we had before the summer of last year. It is of course tempting to govern according to the precautionary principle, but we must actually base our assessments on what is professionally recommended. We continuously ask the health authorities for advice, and introduce stricter measures when the situation changes.
The Minister of Justice and Emergency Preparedness also points out that measures were introduced to prevent the import of the British virus variant, which now dominates the spread of infection in Norway.
– At the end of December, we stopped all flights from the UK due to the British virus variant, then we introduced strict entry restrictions immediately. The mutated virus variants are spreading faster than those we had last summer and autumn, and we have thus had to change the measures as the situation has changed.
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