Norway PM: ‘Some lockdown measures will last into summer’

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said that while some restrictions will be lifted after Easter, she expects a ban on large crowds, festivals and crowded pubs to continue until well into the summer.

Norway PM: 'Some lockdown measures will last into summer'
Prime Minister Erna Solberg talking at a press conference last week. Photo: Norway PM's office/Flickr
“I don't think anyone should think that we should be able to reverse all this after Easter,” she told Norway's VG newspaper in an interview.
“We need more time, but we shall see if there are something we can loosen up a little after Easter. But it will take time before we can bring an end to what people might be finding the most demanding: the distances we have to keep from one another so as not to spread the infection.” 
The government has commissioned reports on what measures can be put in place to minimise the risk of the infection spreading when schools are opened again. 
“We are waiting for reports on what schools different models of opening schools will be able to handle; what it is actually practically possible to do.”
Then, after a meeting next Tuesday or Wednesday, ministers will decide how to manage the school opening.  “The opening of schools and kindergartens will have to take place step by step,” Solberg told the newspaper. 
It is possible, she conceded, that schools and kindergartens would be divided into two shifts, one group of children attending Monday and Wednesday and the other Tuesday and Friday, so as to make it easier to carry out social distancing. 
It is also possible that schools and kindergartens will open later in Oslo than in other parts of the country. 
But, Solberg warned, even if schools and kindergartens open after Easter, many other restrictions would remain in place.
“It's hard to imagine large crowds at concerts and festivals – or full pubs. It will take time,” she said. A crowded pub, she joked, “sounds like an infection bomb”. 
Solberg said it was too early to conclude that Norway's strategy had worked, or that it would continue to keep the country's death rate so low. 
She also refused to condemn Sweden's decision to keep society more open, even now the country is regularly seeing more deaths in a single day than Norway has seen in totality.  
“We have to wait until we are finished to see if Sweden's strategy is the cause of this, or if it has a different contagion than in Norway,” she said. 
“They had a slightly older average age of those infected than we had at the beginning. This also means that they have had more vulnerable infected people than we have had.”
Solberg praised both ordinary Norwegians staying at home, and health personnel who had responded to the crisis. 
“I want to say a big 'thank you' to the Norwegian people, because they have stood so strongly behind the measures we have implemented – and 'thank you' to all those who are at work and have helped to save lives and make sure our society actually works.” 

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What Covid-19 rules apply when going out in Norway?

Norway's government recently tweaked its Covid-19 rules and lifted the alcohol ban introduced at the end of last year, meaning changes to restrictions apply when going out.

Oslo, Norway.
These are the Covid rules if you are planning on going out this weekend. Pictured is Oslo, Norway during the evening. Photo by Ben Garratt on Unsplash

The government has eased Norway’s national Covid rules, and the ban on alcohol being sold in bars, restaurants and other licensed venues has been lifted.

Other changes include an increase to the capacity allowed at venues and a relaxation of quarantine rules for close contacts of those who test positive for the virus.

READ ALSO: Norway lifts alcohol ban as Covid rules eased

Bar’s restaurants and cafes

The country’s alcohol ban has been lifted, meaning licensed businesses can serve customers alcohol.

Venues will be allowed to serve alcohol until 11pm, and a table service requirement is in place, meaning customers can’t order at the bar.

Additionally, restaurants, bars, cafes, and other licensed premises must take customers’ contact details for infection tracking purposes.

Customers will need to wear face masks and maintain a social distance of one metre from those they don’t live with. Face masks aren’t required while seated.  

A maximum of 30 people are allowed to gather at a private event in a public place or on rented premises, such as a table booking.

Museums, shops and theatres

Museums, libraries, shops and shopping centres can stay open but are required by the government to be run in a way compatible with the current restrictions and recommendations. This means that they may opt to have capacity limits. Face masks are mandatory in these settings. Amusement parks, arcades and indoor play areas are all closed.

From noon, Friday, January 21st, the rules on how many people can gather at an indoor public event, such as a show, will rise from 200 with designated seating up to 1,500 people indoors and 3,000 outdoors.

Guests will need to be split into cohorts of 200 and will need to be socially distanced from those not in their household.

Be wary, though, as some theatres have said that the cohort system makes it hard for them to operate near the new 1,500 person limit, meaning some venues may remain closed regardless of the relaxed rules.

Public transport 

If you plan on using public transport to get to your plans, you’ll need to be aware of the rules. These haven’t been changed recently, but the public is asked to avoid public transport during bust periods where possible.

Travellers must wear a face mask if they can’t maintain a social distance of one metre. Masks are also require in taxis and ride-sharing services.

What happens if I or someone I’m with tests positive? 

If you test positive for Covid-19, the isolation period will be a minimum of six days but will not end until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medicine.

If you live with somebody or your partner has tested positive for the virus, you will need to isolate before testing on day seven. If the test returns negative, then isolation ends. 

Other close contacts of people who test positive for the virus are no longer required to quarantine. Instead, they are asked to take a Covid-19 test on days three and five after being identified as a close contact and to keep an eye out for symptoms for ten days.

READ MORE: What are the current rules for Covid-19 self-isolation in Norway?