Norwegian authorities have confirmed that a fine of 20,000 Norwegian kroner ($2,000) or a 15-day jail sentence will be handed out to anyone caught breaking home quarantine or home isolation rules. Anyone caught staying in a country cabin outside of their home municipality risks a fine of 15,000 Norwegian kroner ($1,500) or 10 days in prison, while anyone organising a cultural or sports event will also face a hefty fine.
Criminal justice measures are “required”
It appears the home quarantine and home isolation regulations implemented to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease have been seen by some as advisory. They are in fact law, having been brought in as part of emergency measures under the Control of Infectious Diseases Act.
Other emergency measures include the banning of all foreign citizens who are not residents of Norway from entering the country. The Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has also banned Norwegians from staying in a cabin located outside their home municipality, in a bid to ensure rural health services are not overwhelmed.
The announcement of the fines came as part of guidance issued by Norway’s Director of Public Prosecutions to the Police and prosecuting authorities. They said the serious situation “requires that criminal justice measures be used to help reduce the spread of the virus.”
The punishments were confirmed in an online-only press conference held by Norway’s Minister of Justice, Monica Mæland. Rather than focus on the fines, she instead praised the Norwegian community spirit: “Keep going, be a good caregiver, friend, partner and available neighbor.”
TV2 reported that Oslo’s Police District is investigating “several criminal cases” related to the spread of the coronavirus and the COVID-19 outbreak. Mæland asked the Police to hire 300 to 400 more officers to maintain staffing levels due to high levels of quarantine within the force.
Home quarantine and home isolation in Norway
Under the most recent guidance from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), anyone who has returned from travel outside of Norway since February 27 must be home quarantined for 14 days after returning home. Previously excluded, those returning from Finland and Sweden must also home quarantine if they returned to Norway since March 17. This applies to everyone, regardless of symptoms. Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case is also subject to home quarantine.
Those subject to home quarantine must limit contact with other people. Leaving the house for a walk is permitted, but going to work, using public transport and visiting places where it is difficult to maintain a 1-2 meter distance from others is not permitted.
Those confirmed or suspected of infection are subject to the more restrictive home isolation regulations. This means staying inside and remaining isolated as much as possible from other people within the household.