Theoretically, we could go straight, get on a plane, and go home. Nobody stopped us or told us anything else. But of course we haven’t, Solveig Gulling (68) told Dagbladet.
She and her husband, Asbjørn Wahl, 68, arrived in Norway after a month’s stay in South Africa, on Thursday last week. It was a few days later The government has imposed entry restrictions from eight countries in South Africa, due to the discovery of a possible alternative to the more contagious coronavirus, omicron.
Therefore, the cohabiting couple was shocked by what they met in Gardermoen.
– We went to two airports in South Africa, stopping in Frankfurt. In all three places, they took the situation much more seriously than in Gardermoen. “We think this was completely hopeless,” says Gouling on the phone from a quarantine hotel in Gardermoen.
The discrepancies already became apparent when the couple were stowed away in a “tjåka full” bus at the main airport in Norway. In both South Africa and Germany, there were strict restrictions on the number of buses at the airport.
– In South Africa, we didn’t even enter an airport without having to take a temperature and show a corona certificate and a negative test. In Frankfurt we were met by the police. Here we also had to show the test results and pass the European Corona.
Did not stop
But the day before, the situation was completely different.
– We didn’t stop once.
Avinor, which operates Oslo Gardermoen Airport, is adhering to the authorities’ guidelines, says Director of Communications Joachim Wester-Andersen.
– Avinor informs travelers primarily via digital surfaces, posters and speakers with messages about general requirements and where they can find information on the authorities’ pages.
He further points out that the police are responsible for border control.
The Ministry of Justice and Emergency Preparedness wrote in an email to Dagbladet that the police have allocated additional resources to border control, but they do not control everyone who travels to Norway.
We still rely on the same people who take responsibility if they are in high-contagion areas. At the same time, everyone should be aware that the police conduct random checks and you may be asked to show a login receipt and a Corona certificate, the ministry writes in an email to Dagbladet.
The ministry notes that the police can fine people who do not register upon entry or self-examine. Aliens can be expelled.
Chaos at the test station
The couple say they carefully read the current rules before the flight home. Among other things, they filled out the entry form that they were asked to fill out. They knew they had to be tested when they arrived, and they knew they had to be quarantined, because they had come from one of the eight countries in South Africa.
However, it was not at all clear what they were going to do as they walked down the street.
– We had to find the test station ourselves. When we finally found it, we were greeted by three employees who had not received the necessary training. They did not know where South Africa was, because the sign at the test station was written in English “South Africa”. They had no idea what to do with us. It was incredibly chaotic, even though we were almost alone there.
Gulling stresses that she does not want employees to be suspended at the testing station, and that the employer is responsible for giving them the necessary training.
It was very annoying and unprofessional. Fortunately, an employee arrived. He knew what to do, and he stood up and completed training with the others there and after.
Drupin runs the test station. General Manager Daniel Sorley wrote in an email to Dagbladet that he did not know the specific situation. He notes that the government on the same day the couple arrived in Gardermoen, introduced stricter entry rules. They meant that everyone who comes to Norway should be tested, regardless of their vaccine status.
– Then we had eight hours to increase our original capacity ten times in Gardermoen. We’ve now called up all the alternatives and gone out of our way to recruit additional staff for testing. I don’t have a problem with those who contribute to getting some of their hands-on training. Sorley wrote that I understand that the travelers are finally taken care of after the book, and that is the most important thing.
Ullensaker municipality is responsible for the test stations at the airport.
– When there are changes in entry rules that necessitate increasing testing capacity from a few hundred to 4000-5000 per day, it goes without saying that there will be some challenges in recruiting personnel. Our experience is that Dr. Drobin, who is in charge of testing for us, was quick to mobilize staff, says Municipal Health and Welfare Director Gunhild Grimstad Kirkeby.
After completing both the rapid test and the PCR test, the couple were finally shown to the quarantine hotel where they were going to stay. But here, too, they note that the information is incomplete. Juling says the hotel was not informed that the travelers were coming.
Just a day after their arrival, the couple received a letter of information, having requested it themselves.
– It is especially amazing that in South Africa there has been much greater control. It was so sad and frustrating to be coming home with this noise.
Dagbladet has been in contact with the hotel in question, which states that check-in is done by a security company hired by Ullensaker municipality.
The municipality’s Director of Health and Social Care, Gunhild Grimstad Kirkeby, answers this question:
– Our hotels do not receive lists of names from the airport. They are only told how many passengers will be accommodated. This is recorded upon check-in. It goes perfectly with our routine.
At the Quarantine Hotel, the couple watched Thursday night “The Debate” on NRK. The Minister for Health and Welfare Services, Engfield Kjerkul (Labour), said the government had tried to get “good, up-to-date travel advice” on the government’s website.
– Not. The 68-year-old thinks it’s just baffling.
After the flight back home, Gulling was in contact with both Ullensaker municipality and the FHI, to get information, but also to report that there was no border control.
– We’re not hysterical. We’re doing well, but we think it’s important to let people know about this.
You can contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs notes that everyone who travels should pay attention Ministry of Foreign Affairs travel information And Corona pandemic updates, as well as register on reiseegistrering.no, or in the Reiseklar app. Then the State Department can reach you, if the situation changes.
– If you would like more information on travel advice then, you should contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writes the ministry in an email to Dagbladet.
See the full answer from the State Department in the factbox at the bottom of the case.
As in March 2020
The couple owns a vacation home in the coastal town of Knysna, South Africa. They were also here during the outbreak of the epidemic in March 2020, when the Norwegian authorities asked Norwegians to return home. They followed the command, and landed at Gardermoen at that time as well.
– We’ve been through exactly the same thing now as when we were evacuated from South Africa in March 2020. One might think it’s different now. is to scream.
Grimstad-Kirkeby in Ullensaker municipality says they have gained a lot of experience throughout the pandemic, but their challenge is always that the rule changes come in fairly short order.
– So it is not always easy to plan for the changes we have to make in our logistics. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about it, says the mayor.
The government justified the brief warnings of the need to act quickly.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”