These are the affairs that shook Norway in 2020

Woman tearPhoto: Aliyah Jamou / Unsplash

2020 was the year when the coronavirus pandemic laid a blanket over Norway and the world. It was a year of historic lawsuits, record-breaking outdoors activities and fruit-eating, and of scientific breakthroughs.

Though an unparalleled year, the most familiar human experiences still followed us. Even in 2020, we laughed, we cried, we failed, we succeeded.

As 2020 stretches into its final days, we remember affairs that shook Norway this year.


January 3rd. Author and artist Ari Behn‘s funeral is held at the Oslo Cathedral. Behn took his own life on Christmas Day 2019.

January 7: A major fire in the parking garage at Sola Airport in Stavanger causes the building to partially collapse, and hundreds of cars are destroyed.

January 7: Giant oil field Johan Sverdrup opens in the North Sea. It’s the largest development on the Norwegian shelf since the 1980s.

Oil drilling
Photo: wasi1370 / Pixabay

January 17: A Norwegian-Pakistani woman accused of terrorism is brought home from Syria with her two children, based on the health situation of one child. The Progress Party (FRP) opposes the government’s decision and dissents.

January 20: FRP announces that they are leaving the government after the disagreement in the case of the woman accused of terrorism.

January 26: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against travel to the Hubei province in China due to the spread of the coronavirus.

January 31: The Norwegian Meteorological Institute reports a record warm winter in most Norwegian counties. 2020 will later prove to be one of the warmest years ever measured in Norway, a sign of global warming, experts say.


February 20: Dombås Church receives NOK 1 million in damage after an incidence of arson. A 28-year-old Somali man is later charged with this incident, as well as arson in Sel Church.

February 24: Artist Jahn Teigen dies at age 70.

February 26: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) confirms the first case of Covid-19 in Norway. A Tromsø woman tested positive after returning home from China.

February 28: The Socialist Left Party (SV) promotes a no-confidence motion against Minister of Fisheries Geir Inge Sivertsen (H). The motion follows revelations that Sivertsen received severance pay for a job as Mayor at the same time he received full pay as State Secretary. Sivertsen announces his departure later the same day.

February 28: An employee at the eye department at Ullevål hospital in Oslo tests positive for coronavirus, becoming the sixth person in Norway to do so.


March 5: The Liberal Party’s (V) election committee nominates Trine Skei Grande to continue as party leader despite strong opposition from several county councils.

March 7: FHI confirms that all the country’s counties have now registered coronavirus infections. A total of 147 people have been infected nationwide, many of whom have recently returned from skiing holidays in Austria and northern Italy.

Photo: CDC / Unsplash

March 10: Concerts, national meetings, theater performances and sporting events are called off after FHI advises canceling or postponing all events with over 500 participants.

March 11: Trine Skei Grande announces that she is resigning as Minister and Liberal Party leader. The party’s nomination committee must meet again to discuss an alternative.

March 12: The first coronavirus-related death is registered in Norway. On the same day, the government introduces the strictest measures yet. All schools and kindergartens must close down. Universities, colleges, hairdressers and gyms cannot stay open either.

March 13: The Oslo Stock Exchange closes with the worst stock market week since the financial crisis. FHI reports that they no longer have control over the spread of coronavirus infection in Norway.

March 14: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against traveling to all foreign countries and asks Norwegians who have traveled out of the country to return home.

March 24: The government’s cracks down on the virus and measures are tightened. Everyone is now asked to keep at least one meter between one another outdoors and two meters indoors.

March 26: Najumuddin Faraj Ahmad, also known as Mulla Krekar, is extradited from Norway to Italy, where he is sentenced to twelve years in prison for terrorism planning.

March 30: Bardu Municipality and several other municipalities in northern Norway introduce the so-called “Søring quarantine”. Everyone who comes from the south must quarantines for 14 days.


April 1: In Norway, 43 coronavirus-related deaths are now registered. The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients reaches 325, which will be the highest number of hospitalized patients in 2020.

April 2: An Oslo hairdresser is fined NOK 20,000 for taking customers.

April 7: The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) must postpone processing cases related to the social security scandal, due to the enormous amount of cases in connection with the coronavirus crisis. More than 360,000 people have applied for unemployment benefits since the country closed down on the 12th of March.

April 8: The 100th coronavirus-related death is recorded.

April 13: Health authorities encourage Norwegians not to travel abroad this summer.

April 16: FHI launches the infection tracking app Smittestopp. The app will later be deactivated after the Norwegian Data Protection Authority reacts to factors regarding personal information.

April 18: The appointment of new oil fund manager Nicolai Tangen becomes a hot topic after tabloid newspaper publication Verdens Gang’s (VG) announces Tangen arranged a luxury seminar in the United States five months before he was hired. His hiring process will receive a lot of attention up until he begins the position September 1.

April 21: A historic price collapse in the US leads to a fall in oil prices, which hits the Oslo Stock Exchange sharply.

April 28: Tom Hagen is arrested and charged with the murder of his wife Anne-Elisabeth Hagen.


May 8: Tom Hagen is released from Oslo prison after the Court of Appeal does not believe there is a basis for custody. Police uphold the murder charge.

May 15: The government advises against foreign travel until August 20.

May 17: Norway’s National Day is celebrated with strict coronavirus infection guidelines, and with some key events canceled, it’s very different than usual.


June 5: Tens of thousands of people demonstrate against racism in a number of Norwegian cities in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in the United States.

June 11: 22-year-old Philip Manshaus is sentenced to 21 years in prison for the murder of step-sister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen (17) and the attack at the Al-Noor Mosque on Skui in Bærum in August of 2019.

June 19: The Court of Appeal sentences ex-police officer Eirik Jensen to 21 years in prison for gross corruption and complicity in the importation of hashish. Hash smuggler Gjermund Cappelen is sentenced to 13 years in prison. An appeal to the Supreme Court is later rejected.


July 19: Two children, both under the age of ten, are found dead in an apartment in Lørenskog. The 35-year-old mother is charged with murder.

July 26: A major outbreak in Moss is traced back to a wedding party. In the next few days, a dozen people will be diagnosed with the infection.

July 31: Four coronavirus-infected employees on Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen ship are admitted to a hospital in Tromsø. This will be the start of a major outbreak on the ship, which will spread to 69 municipalities. The case is investigated by the police, and the government tightens up cruise traffic.


August 3: Statsbygg starts construction of a national July 22 memorial on Utøya, despite major protests from several of the neighbors. The conflict will be the subject of several lawsuits during autumn.

August 7: The government puts the reopening of the country on hold after coronavirus cases increase all around the country. Much of the infection has been imported from abroad, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs again advises against all unnecessary travel.

August 9: Indre Østfold is hit by major virus outbreaks. This leads to the municipality urgently introducing very strict measures, such as a ban on all social gatherings.

August 11: Sponsorship events for new students are canceled in several places in the country.

August 13: The government extends the layoff period, so that companies can lay off employees for one year.

August 14: Residents of Oslo and Indre Østfold are recommended to wear face masks on public transport when it’s not possible to social distance one meter.

August 15: A 50-year-old Norwegian-Indian man is arrested at a restaurant in Oslo after meeting with a Russian diplomat. The 50-year-old is charged with espionage, and the Russian diplomat is deported.

August 22: There is a commotion at Festplassen in the center of Bergen in connection with a Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN) event. SIAN leader Lars Thorsen is slightly injured, and a number of people are fined by the police.

August 24: Trond Giske is unanimously nominated as the new county leader in Trøndelag’s Labor Party. This triggers a flood of protests, including from Trøndelag’s Workers’ Youth League, which is withdrawing its support. The nomination committee rejects Giske in favor of Marit Bjerkås, but it is Ingvild Kjerkol who is elected by ballot in the end.

August 30: A dozen people are transported to hospital with suspicion of carbon monoxide poisoning after a party in a bunker on St. Hanshaugen in Oslo. Several are charged in the case.


September 8: The trial against Laila Anita Bertheussen starts in Oslo District Court and will last for 21 court days. She is accused of threatening democracy, her own cohabitant Tor Mikkel Wara, and the couple Ingvil Smines and Christian Tybring-Gjedde. The verdict is expected in January.

September 16: A strike that includes thousands of security guards across the country begins, lasting until December 3. The same week another strike starts, which lasts for eleven days and includes 8,000 bus drivers around Norway.


October 3: 48-year-old SIAN member Dan-Eivind Lid is found dead in his apartment in Suldalen in Kristiansand. Later this month, three men will be arrested and charged with murder or complicity to murder. Police say the killing was not politically motivated.

October 9: King Harald undergoes heart surgery at Rikshospitalet in Oslo after being admitted the month before due to heavy breathing.

October 13: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accuses Russia of being behind the IT attack in Parliament this summer.

October 15: Hammerfest‘s hospital is hit by a coronavirus outbreak. A dozen employees are infected, and even more are quarantined.

October 22: The number of coronavirus patients rises to 44 patients, the highest it’s been in five months. The number will continue to rise for many weeks to come.

October 26: The government tightens its coronavirus measures until Advent in an attempt to save Christmas. Norwegians are asked not to have more than five guests at a time, and to not spend too much time with close contacts.


November 4: The Supreme Court begins processing the so-called climate lawsuit, in which several environmental organizations sued the state for oil exploration in the Barents Sea.

November 5: Makaveli Lindén (22) is sentenced to compulsory mental health care for the murder of 24-year-old Heikki Paltto in Oslo in October 2018.

November 5: Following protests and a slew of high-profile opponents against the Hungarian airline, Wizz Air launches low-cost domestic flights in Norway.

November 6: Infection increases in Oslo, which introduces a social closure, including a full stop on serving alcohol. The infection is also rising in Bergen, and a maximum limit of five people is introduced for private gatherings.

November 9: Struggling Norwegian Air receives a ‘no’ from the government for extra support. One month later, two of the airline’s subsidiaries in Ireland receive bankruptcy protection.

November 14: Lyngdal Municipality and several neighboring municipalities urgently introduce strict coronavirus measures after a major outbreak, which is linked to Romanian church meetings the weekend before.

November 26: Oslo announces it will continue its social shutdown until December 14.


December 1: The governing parties and the Progress Party agree on the state budget for next year, after long and demanding negotiations.

December 7: Bergen gradually opens up, while Oslo continues its social shutdown until January 7. In Trondheim, infection rates are rising, and a new record will be set this week.

December 10: FHI raises the number of registered coronavirus-related deaths by 21, making it 382 total.

December 30: A devastating landslide occurs in Gjerdrum. It’s 700 meters long and 10-20 meters wide. Many are injured and searches for missing people continue after nightfall.

Source: Norway Today / NTB


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