Erna Solberg: I am deeply proud of how Norwegians handled the biggest challenge since World War II

Erna SolbergPhoto: Jil Yngland / NTB
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2020 was a really bad year, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in her New Year’s speech. She talked about the year that started with a pandemic and ended with a landslide disaster.

“At the beginning of the year, the coronavirus came. At the very end of the year, we witnessed the destruction that the forces of nature can do, when Gjerdrum in Romerike was hit by one of the worst landslides in recent times,” Solberg said.

She began the traditional New Year’s speech, which Norwegian heads of government have given since 1946, by addressing everyone affected by the landslide in Gjerdrum municipality.

“Many people are affected. Many have lost their homes. Many are still evacuated. Many live in uncertainty,” Solberg said.

“Our thoughts go to everyone who is affected by this disaster. And our gratitude goes to the rescue crews who have done a formidable job.”

“The decade did not start as we hoped”

The coronavirus pandemic completely overshadowed 2020. And it naturally also left a clear mark on Solberg’s New Year’s speech.

“But the decade did not start as we had hoped and dreamed of,” she said.

“The virus has taken lives. Many became ill. Jobs have been lost. Many have felt loneliness and alienation,” Solberg said.

She also talked about the insecurity that she and the rest of the government have felt through the pandemic.

“The government has had to make decisions quickly. Often under great uncertainty. Not everything went right on the first try. But we have changed our decisions as we learned more,” she said.

The persistence of Norwegians

Norway shut down on March 12, after the first wave of infection hit the country. 

Later, Norway was hit by a second wave of infection, which in turn left its mark on the country.

“Both times, we have done better than many other countries. We have had fewer (people)in hospitals and fewer deaths. Our economy has done better,” Solberg said.

There are several reasons for this, she emphasized. 

Among other things, the government launched measures early on, and most Norwegians supported them, she continued.

“I am deeply grateful, proud, and moved by the way the Norwegian people have handled the biggest challenge for our society since World War II.

“Employees in hospitals and elderly care are in a special position. Their efforts have meant a lot to the patients they have treated and given us all security and pride,” Solberg said.

Hugs and concerts

Just before Christmas, the coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer / BioNTech was approved for use in the EU and Norway. 

The first delivery arrived on December 26, and the next day the very first vaccine was administered.

At the beginning of 2021, the extensive vaccination process continues in full force. 

“Soon, the day will come when we can give each other hugs again. Stand close together at a concert and sing our hearts out. 

“Gather all generations of the family for holidays and birthdays,” Solberg said, encouraging people to help those who are lonely during the pandemic.

“Look around. If there is someone who you think is sitting alone, make a phone call,” Solberg said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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