Norway keeps Covid-19 restrictions in place for national day celebrations

Covid-19 restrictions remain in place during Norway's May 17th national day on Monday for the second year running.

Norway keeps Covid-19 restrictions in place for national day celebrations
A typical May 17th parade Hans Birger Nilsen Flickr

Nationally, parades of up to 200 people are allowed provided social distancing is observed. Restrictions in the capital Oslo are somewhat tighter, with public assembly limited at 10 people.

Local rules should be checked before heading out to any event.

Although coronavirus restrictions have not been eased for May 17th, the deputy director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Nakstad encouraged the country to enjoy its national day.

“Be considerate to others, avoid crowds and have a nice time,” Nakstad told newspaper VG.

The senior health official also stressed the importance of ensuring visiting family members have no symptoms and are not currently required to isolate.

Up to five people can be invited to celebrate at private homes or gardens, with vaccinated people not counting towards that total.

A family of more than five (from the same household) may be invited if there is enough space to social distance.

“Unvaccinated guests not from the same household should keep a one-meter distance,” Nakstad told VG.

Speaking last month, the Minister for Culture Abid Raja made it clear that restrictions would not eased for the sake of the annual celebration.
“I stand here again to say that the pandemic will mark the celebration of our national day this year as well,” Raja said. 
“Remember that not gathering is to show care for those you love, for the environment and society,” he added.
In general national measures applied on Monday unless there were stricter local measures in place. 
May 17th, or constitution day, commemorates the signing of Norway’s constitution in 1814. Many people like to meet friends and family, celebrate and have parties.
Normally marching bands and parades are also a big part of the day and everyone dresses in their national costume, or bunad. 
Nakstad earlier said some celebrations would still go ahead. 
“Those planning 17th May celebrations can use the infection control advice as a starting point for planning,” he told VG in April.
The following guidelines were issued ahead of May 17th. 
  • Where events are allowed, gatherings should be avoided across municipal boundaries, and that all planned events should take place locally
  • May 17th parades are covered by Covid-19 restrictions regarding events. If events are advised against or prohibited, then they shouldn’t take place 
  • If there is a risk that children’s parades, which are a big part of May 17th celebrations, will lead to a gathering of people, they should be cancelled. 
  • In areas where events are prohibited, marching bands will still be able to play for residents in announced pop-up performances 
  • Marching band practice ahead of May 17th must follow national and local advice.

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Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.