Denmark bans flights without negative Covid-19 tests

Denmark on Friday announced it would only allow flights into the country where every passenger had tested negative for Covid-19 and the government urged Danes to put off abroad travel all together.

Denmark bans flights without negative Covid-19 tests
Copenhagen's Kastrup airport almost empty of passengers in March. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix
In addition to being negative tests can only be 24 hours old. The rule will apply to both Danish citizens and foreigners, and it will be up to airlines to ensure passengers have been tested.
“That means that, as of January 9 at 5 pm, no airline will be allowed to fly to a Danish airport without having checked that all passengers onboard have tested negative,” transport minister Benny Engelbrecht told a news conference.
Domestic flights, as well as flights from Greenland and the Faroe islands will be exempt from the requirement, as will children under 12.   
Border restrictions were also tightened for foreigners entering the country by land or sea, they would also need to produce a negative test and have a valid reason to travel, according to broadcaster DR.
The tighter restrictions were motivated by the circulation of reportedly more contagious variants of the novel coronavirus, specifically the ones discovered in the UK and South Africa.
The country's foreign ministry also issued new guidance on travel and said it was now advising against all travel abroad, replacing its previous guidance to avoid non-essential travel abroad.
“If you are considering travelling abroad, don't,” Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod told reporters on Friday.
Last week health authorities reported they had confirmed 86 cases of the British variant in Denmark.
Responding to the threat of a more easily spread virus, Denmark on Tuesday announced even tighter measures on top of a partial lockdown in place since mid-December.
In addition to existing measures like working from home and the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and most shops, gatherings of more than five people were banned — down from 10 — and people were asked to keep two metres (six feet) apart, rather than one metre.
“Stay at home as much as you can, don't meet people outside your household, those close to you,” prime minister Mette Frederiksen said on Tuesday.
The new travel guidance as well as the restrictions are set to remain in place until January 17.

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Could Oslo-Copenhagen overnight train be set for return?

A direct overnight rail service between the Norwegian and Danish capitals has not operated since 2001, but authorities in Oslo are considering its return.

Norway’s transport minister Knut Arild Hareide has asked the country’s railway authority Jernbanedirektoratet to investigate the options for opening a night rail connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

An answer is expected by November 1st, after which the Norwegian government will decide whether to go forward with the proposal to directly link the two Nordic capitals by rail.

Jernbanedirektoratet is expected to assess a timeline for introducing the service along with costs, market and potential conflicts with other commercial services covering the route.

“I hope we’ll secure a deal. Cross-border trains are exciting, including taking a train to Malmö, Copenhagen and onwards to Europe,” Hareide told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

The minister said he envisaged either a state-funded project or a competition awarding a contract for the route’s operation to the best bidder.

A future Oslo-Copenhagen night train rests on the forthcoming Jernbanedirektoratet report and its chances of becoming a reality are therefore unclear. But the Norwegian rail authority earlier this year published a separate report on ways in which passenger train service options from Norway to Denmark via Sweden can be improved.

“We see an increasing interest in travelling out of Norway by train,” Jernbanedirektoratet project manager  Hanne Juul said in a statement when the report was published in January.

“A customer study confirmed this impression and we therefore wish to make it simpler to take the train to destinations abroad,” Juul added.

Participants in the study said that lower prices, fewer connections and better information were among the factors that would encourage them to choose the train for a journey abroad.

Norway’s rail authority also concluded that better international cooperation would optimise cross-border rail journeys, for example by making journey and departure times fit together more efficiently.

The Femahrn connection between Denmark and Germany, currently under construction, was cited as a factor which could also boost the potential for an overland rail connection from Norway to mainland Europe.

Night trains connected Oslo to Europe via Copenhagen with several departures daily as recently as the late 1990s, but the last such night train between the two cities ran in 2001 amid dwindling demand.

That trend has begun to reverse in recent years due in part to an increasing desire among travellers to select a greener option for their journey than flying.

Earlier this summer, a new overnight train from Stockholm to Berlin began operating. That service can be boarded by Danish passengers at Høje Taastrup near Copenhagen.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about the new night train from Copenhagen to Germany