Norway eases up on restrictions

COVID-19 infection rates now stabilizing; caution still in place

Erna Solberg

Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix
Erna Solberg at the Jan. 18 parliamentary session.

The Local

With COVID-19 infection rates in Norway stabilizing, the government announced on Jan. 18 that it was easing up some restrictions. Prime Minister Erna Solberg presented the new measures in a parliamentary brief.

The changes, which came into force on Jan. 20, included easing the particularly strict restrictions implemented on Jan. 4 in order to prevent increased transmission after the festive season. The prime minister warned, however, that other restrictions would likely have to remain in place until the summer.

Solberg had previously stated that several measures would be lifted if the transmission of the COVID-19 virus subsided.

In January, the share of people who tested positive for the virus steadily decreased from 4.3% on Jan, 1 to 1.1% on Jan. 14, according to data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH).

 As of Jan, 18, 58,651 people in Norway have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Of these, 521 had died, and 2,359 people with the virus were receiving treatment in a hospital.

Current restrictions and recommendations

Don’t travel: People in Norway are still advised against all domestic and international travel.

School sports:  The government is prioritizing reducing restrictions in schools, for example children and young people are again permitted to participate in after-school activities and sports. “We have chosen to prioritize children and young people,” Solberg said.

Gatherings and guests: The advice against receiving guests in your own home will be lifted. But people are still advised against receiving more than five guests. The limit on the number of people that may attend private gatherings inside has been increased from five to 10. Up to 20 people may attend private gatherings outside. A maximum of 200 people may attend events indoors as long as all chairs are secured to the floor. The limit is 600 for outdoors events.

Ban on serving alcohol: Notably, the ban against serving alcohol will stay in place. “We know that workers in places that serve alcohol are disproportionately exposed to COVID-19,” Solberg said. She also referred to a new Danish study, which found that bars contribute to transmitting the virus.

Looking ahead

The prime minister also warned that restrictions may be tightened if virus transmissions start increasing again. She did not rule out the possibility of stay-at-home orders, although their legality is being discussed.

Norwegians should expect tough restrictions to continue in the coming months. The prime minister warned that measures to curb the transmission of the virus are expected to last at least until the summer and perhaps even longer.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Local

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