Is Norway likely to bring back Covid restrictions this Christmas? 

Pictured is a Christmas tree.Last year's Christmas in Norway was marked by Covid-19 restrictions, but what about this year?
Last year's Christmas was marked by Covid-19 restrictions, but what about this year? Pictured is a Christmas tree.Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash
With the holidays just a few weeks away and Covid cases rising in Norway, will the government introduce any new measures to combat the spread of infection over Christmas? 

Last year’s Christmas celebrations saw households advised to limit themselves to five guests at a time and up to ten during a maximum of two days over the holidays. Local measures such as wearing masks in public places also applied in may areas.

Rules were tighter still in capital city Oslo, with restrictions in place in shops, bars and restaurants for the festive period.

Could there be similar rules this holiday season? 

At the end of September, the now-ousted Erna Solberg government declared the return to ‘normal everyday life with increased preparedness‘ by lifting most of the remaining national Covid measures in the country, including limits on guests and social distancing. 

Since then, cases have increased, and the government reintroduced some measures including the previously axed domestic Covid certificate

On November 10th, the highest number of daily Covid cases throughout the pandemic in Norway was recorded. But the key difference between last Christmas and this year is that 87.3 percent of the population over 18 is now fully vaccinated

While vaccinations don’t stop the spread of infection entirely, they offer protection against severe disease. 

What, if any measures, is Norway likely to implement for Christmas? 

The measures introduced in Norway in response to the recent trend of rising infections are — so far– relatively mild. In addition to bringing back the Covid certificate, new rules for testing unvaccinated close contacts of those who test positive for Covid-19; and more testing for unvaccinated healthcare were announced by the government.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre earlier said he hopes the return of the Covid-19 certificate will avert stricter rules and measures further down the line. 

“This means that you can live as normally as possible, even if there is a lot of infection in society,” Støre said at a government press conference.

This should be good news for anyone worrying about a rise in infections leading to national restrictions over Christmas, as it looks like the government currently doesn’t have any plans to introduce strict measures at the current time. 

The bad news for non-residents visiting family in Norway this Christmas is that visitors and tourists cannot access the pass because you need an electronic ID and Norwegian identification number to do so. 

This means that they may have to miss out on certain planned activities and events if a Covid pass is introduced where they are staying. 

What if infections continue to rise?

Should infections continue to rise in the lead up to Christmas, the most likely national recommendations implemented would probably be recommendations on how people should celebrate the holidays rather than enforceable restrictions. This is merely speculation at the time of writing, however: the government hasn’t announced any planned response to rising infections in the run-up to the festive period.

At a more local level, measures such as social distancing and face masks can be introduced by municipalities if infections continue to trend upwards going into the holidays. One example of this is the recent reintroduction of masks on public transport in Trondheim. 

Any local measures introduced are likely to be far less intrusive than last year, when, for example, restaurants were unable to sell alcohol.

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