Plan B for Christmas

Prime minister urges Norwegian people to make alternative plans this year

Solberg Plan B coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Jil Yngland / NTB scanpix
Prime Minister Erna Solberg at a press conference to discuss the coronavirus situation.

NTB

People should start planning now for an alternative Christmas celebration, according to Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

“I have already canceled my two annual gløgg parties. That part of Christmas is out,” Solberg told NTB.

Whether larger families of 10 to 15 people will be able to gather for Christmas is still uncertain. As of press time, a recommendation of a maximum of five guests was in place. “I wouldn’t cancel just yet, but I would begin to make alternative plans,” said Solberg.

The increasing rate of infection in recent weeks has pushed the government to warn of potential changes to this year’s Christmas celebrations. On Nov. 13 alone, 710 new cases of coronavirus were reported—the record for a single day in Norway.

“A negative direction”
The most recent restrictions, which went into effect on Nov. 10, were meant to help preserve the possibility of normal Christmas festivities. But at a Nov. 13 press conference, Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie stated that “the developments have gone in such a negative direction in recent weeks that Norwegians must prepare themselves for COVID-related restrictions through the Christmas season.”

A great hope
Nevertheless, said Høie on Nov. 13, with six weeks until Christmas, it is still possible that the restrictions will have a significant effect. “There is a great hope, for we’ve shown before that we can do it,” he said to NTB.

Many Norwegians travel home for Christmas, which often means larger movements in the population. As of now, that movement doesn’t yet concern the prime minister very much. “But everybody should plan for the possibility that we could be in a situation at Christmas where we can’t make it happen,” she said, adding that people who are sick or have symptoms must avoid traveling.

Rules should hinder a new outbreak
Høie thinks it is also important that people don’t soften up too early and thereby lose control. “It is something we have to evaluate when we see the results of the restrictions. And that depends on the efforts of each and every one of us,” he said.

The recent restrictions included stricter regulations for people who are traveling into Norway from countries with high rates of infection. Potential Christmas guests from abroad must now quarantine for 10 days, in hopes of hindering a new outbreak.

Prime Minister Solberg stressed that the rules now in effect are so strict that her own children don’t escape. “We have sharp quarantine rules. That means that all of us mothers who have children studying abroad must ensure that our children do in fact put themselves in quarantine when they come home from Christmas visits,” said Solberg.

Translated by Andy Meyer

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 27, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway

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