The Norwegian government went ahead with imposing new regulations on Friday that can crack down hard on Norwegians who drive over the border to shop in Sweden. Not only do they face a 14-day quarantine upon arrival back in Norway, they’ll now be denied sick pay while in quarantine.
“It’s unreasonable that people who consciously defy calls against unnecessary travel should also get sick pay while in quarantine,” stated Labour Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen. “We’re therefore changing the rules so that people in this situation can be denied benefits.”
Police and customs agents are out in full at border crossings between Norway and Sweden, and registering all Norwegians returning to Norway for quarantine. Authorities and many others reacted strongly when more than 2,000 people crossed the border during the Easter holidays to shop in Sweden, where prices are much lower for food and especially beer, wine and liquor.
That prompted the government to act quickly. “They can’t expect to sit home with full pay from the state when they have knowingly violated travel guidelines,” Isaksen said. Others, including officials at national employers’ organization NHO, accused those shopping in Sweden of abusing social welfare benefits.