Sweden excluded as neighbours Denmark and Norway ease travel restrictions

Terje Solsvik and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
FILE PHOTO: Sign assures people that bar is open during coronavirus outbreak in Stockholm

By Terje Solsvik and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

OSLO/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - 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," Norway's Solberg said.

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

Tourists from Sweden will still not be able to visit. Sweden's death rate per capita from the disease is many times higher than the combined total of the other Nordic countries.

"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 she had been in contact with the Danish foreign minister on Friday.

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

On Tuesday, 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 also added that the COVID-19 spread and death rate was 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 June 1.

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.


(Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen in Copenhagen, Victoria Klesty in Oslo and Simon Johnson and Johan Ahlander in Stockholm; Writing by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Frances Kerry)