Denmark and Norway exclude Sweden from travel deal

Norway and Denmark say they will open up tourism between their two countries from 15 June but will maintain restrictions for Swedes.

Sweden did not impose a lockdown, unlike its Nordic neighbours, and its Covid-19 death toll – above 4,000 – is by far the highest in Scandinavia.

Danish PM Mette Frederiksen said Denmark and Sweden were in different places regarding the pandemic.

Denmark is also opening up tourism with Germany and Iceland, within limits.

Tourists from those countries cannot stay the night in Copenhagen, which has the most coronavirus cases. Danes can travel to those two countries too, without having to go into quarantine on their return.

The announcement dashes the hopes of Danes hoping to travel to Southern Europe for their holidays and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said they should avoid big cities and stick to the countryside.

At a joint video news conference, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said “we can’t open too suddenly, that would jeopardise everything we’ve accomplished”.

Danish-Swedish economic ties are very close, especially in the Oeresund region, where they are linked by a giant suspension bridge. Moreover, they are both in the EU, whereas Norway is not.

Sweden’s 10 million population is also bigger than that of Denmark (5.8 million) or Norway (5.4 million).

On Tuesday, Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde warned that excluding Sweden from moves to open borders across the Nordic region would be a political decision and not justifiable on health grounds.

In comments reported by Swedish TV on Friday, she said Sweden had hoped for a common Nordic solution but it was impossible.

The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – were the first in the EU to create a “travel bubble” enabling free cross-border movement for their citizens during the coronavirus crisis.

Prime Minister Frederiksen said she was continuing to negotiate with the Swedish government and hoped for a regional border solution for the Oeresund region.

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