Last week, the Norwegian government announced that it would largely extend the national infection prevention measures that are in place. However, there will soon be some easing of the measures applicable to children, young people, and students.
The government’s decisions are based on advice provided by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI).
“We are seeing that the national measures are having an impact, and an increasing number of people are being protected thanks to vaccinations. Things are moving in the right direction.
“At the same time, the infection situation remains unstable. Therefore, we are largely extending the national measures that are designed to limit the spread of infection.
“However, we are easing some measures, particularly those applying to children, young people, and students.
“At the same time, we are also tightening some restrictions in order to ensure that the infection situation does not spiral out of control,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) noted last week.
The situation can change very quickly
There are significant differences in the levels of infection in different parts of the country. The situation can change very quickly in a short space of time.
Experience shows that municipalities that have been infection-free for long periods of time can suddenly succumb to major outbreaks.
“The spread of the new, more infectious strains of the virus have made the infection situation more unpredictable.
“This reinforces the need for us to continue to keep in place strict national measures, while we must also respond quickly when there is an outbreak of infection,” Bent Høie (H), Minister of Health and Care Services, accentuated.
These changes will apply from 00:01 on Tuesday, February 23. The government will carry out a new assessment of the measures in mid-March.
Students permitted to attend classes in person in more cases
The COVID-19 pandemic and the infection prevention measures have had a particularly significant impact on children and young people. Measures are now being eased to allow students to attend teaching in person at universities, university colleges, and vocational schools, provided that enhanced infection prevention measures are in place.
For example, these measures may include initiatives to ensure distancing of at least one meter between people, the use of face coverings, the position of seating in physical lectures, and the closure of canteen facilities.
The opening of campus facilities also includes the provision of access to study space and libraries where infection prevention measures are in place. Large lectures and gatherings should still be avoided. Teaching in smaller groups may take place since these can be more easily organized in a COVID-safe manner.
In municipalities that are subject to particularly strict measures due to the prevailing infection situation, there may be other municipal regulations that apply in these cases.
“I am very pleased that we are now easing measures to allow students to physically attend teaching in person at universities, university colleges, and vocational schools.
“It has been a tough year for many students, and social contact is an important way to reduce loneliness and isolation. I hope the easing of these measures will make student life a little brighter for many people,” Guri Melby (V), Minister of Education, noted.
Sporting events for children and young people
Participation in leisure activities is very important for children and young people. Competitions are also an important motivating factor for children and young people engaged in sport.
Children and young people under 20 years of age may now train and participate in leisure activities as usual, both indoors and outdoors. It is also now permitted for sporting events and competitions for children and young people to take place when these bring together participants from within the same municipality.
These events may have up to 50 persons when staged indoors and 200 persons when staged outdoors. Close contact sports such as football and handball will require all participants in competitions to come from the same municipality.
In the case of children and young people who train with a sports team in another municipality, they will be permitted to compete with this team provided that the prevailing infection situation allows for it. In sports without close contact, such as skiing, competitions may bring together participants from across the sport or region.
Amended requirements on fixed seating
Multiple event organizers have highlighted that the current requirements for fixed seating had differing impacts on them and that the stipulations were often difficult to implement in practice. The rule at present is that up to 10 persons may attend indoor events, while up to 200 persons may attend if everyone is seated in fixed seating.
The government is therefore amending the regulations applicable to events. The requirement for fixed seating is to be replaced with a requirement for specific, assigned seating positions.
This will allow an audience to be seated on chairs, benches, or the like, or in a specific position on the floor throughout an event. This amendment will enable larger events in far more facilities.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) have also made clear that permitting 200 persons indoors, even when using fixed, assigned seating, is unduly lenient given the current, unstable infection situation.
It is, therefore, necessary to limit the maximum number of persons who may attend indoor events to 100 people. This includes funerals and burial services.
“We have received extensive feedback indicating that the requirement for fixed seating is complex. Therefore, we are simplifying the regulations to make it easier to implement COVID-safe events.
“I am delighted that this will mean that more people are able to come together for religious services across the country, and that we are increasing the number of people who may attend funerals from 50 to 100.
“Funerals and burial services are especially important since they cannot be postponed and are a fundamental part of the grieving process. This is why I believe this change is an important one for many,” Kjell Ingolf Ropstad (KRF), Minister of Children, Family, and Church Affairs, said.
The government believes that it is not currently possible to allow further, larger events. This change will tighten restrictions for some organizations that are currently permitted to have up to 200 persons in fixed seating in venues such as theatres.
This change eases restrictions on organizations in other types of premises such as village halls, clubhouses, and concert venues, which are now permitted to host up to 100 people in specific, assigned seating positions.
The current limit of 200 persons will remain in place for outdoor events. Up to 600 people are permitted outdoors if there are three cohorts of no more than 200 persons with all attendees seated in fixed, assigned positions, and there are two meters of distance between the cohorts.
Organizers must implement measures to fulfill distancing requirements between participants who are not members of the same household at events where the public is seated in fixed, assigned seating positions. If necessary, guards should be used to ensure that this is achieved.
Events that bring people together from different municipalities should be postponed or canceled.
Ban on serving alcohol cut-off time amended to 10:00 PM
At present, alcohol may be served alongside food. Alcohol must not be served after midnight. Following the advice of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the government is changing the cut-off time from midnight to 10:00 PM.
This is due to the precarious infection situation. It is necessary to introduce measures that help to reduce mobility and contact between people.
Alcohol may be served at events in the same way as it is in licensed restaurants, bars, and cafes.
- Everyone should limit social contact. It is recommended that meetings with other people take place outdoors, and to avoid visits of more than five guests in addition to those who are already living together.
- If all of the guests are from the same household, more visitors are permitted. However, the number of visitors must allow for physical distancing.
- Children in kindergartens and primary schools may receive visits from members of their own cohort.
- You are advised to avoid all foreign travel.
- Avoid unnecessary domestic travel.
- You may travel to a cabin (owned or rented) or hotel domestically within Norway, but you should avoid public transport where this is possible.
- As a general rule, persons traveling to municipalities with less strict measures in place should follow the recommendations that apply to the municipality in which they ordinarily live.
- Working from home is advised for everybody who is able to do so.
Sport and leisure activities
- Children and young people under 20 years of age may train and participate in leisure activities as usual, both indoors and outdoors. They are also exempt from the recommendation of a one-meter physical distance from others where this is necessary to conduct the activity.
- Children and young people under the age of 20 may participate in sporting events that bring together participants from within the same municipality. Up to 50 persons may participate in such events when staged indoors. When events are staged outdoors, the limit is 200 persons, which includes participants, coaches, referees, and any spectators. In the case of children and young people who train with a sports team in another municipality, they will be permitted to compete with this team provided that the prevailing infection situation allows for it. (New)
- Children and young people under the age of 20 involved in sports without close contact, such as skiing, may participate in sporting events outdoors that bring together participants from across the sport or region where regions are used as geographic boundaries. (New)
- Adults are not recommended to engage in organized activities indoors. Adults may participate in organized forms of exercise if it is possible to maintain sufficient physical distancing.
- Elite athletes may continue to train as normal both indoors and outdoors.
- Elite sporting events are permitted with the exception of league matches which we continue to recommend the postponement of. This also applies to training matches against other teams from outside your own club. This also applies to sports that are currently in the off-season, including football. We continue to recommend that all persons limit their mobility and social contacts.
- Students may physically attend teaching in person at universities, university colleges, and vocational schools provided that enhanced infection prevention measures are in place. (New)
- Larger lectures and gatherings should be avoided, but teaching in smaller groups may take place provided they are organized in a way that is COVID-safe. (New)
- The opening of campus facilities also includes the provision of access to study space and libraries where infection prevention measures are in place. (New)
Private gatherings and events:
Events that bring people together from different municipalities should be postponed or canceled. The rules applicable to events are as follows:
- A maximum of ten individuals may attend private indoor gatherings outside their own home, such as a birthday celebration in rented premises.
- A maximum of 50 persons may attend indoor sporting events for children, which bring together participants from within the same municipality. (New)
- A maximum of 100 persons may attend other events where all members of the audience are seated in specific, assigned seating positions. (New)
- A maximum of 200 persons may attend outdoor events, while up to 3 cohorts of 200 persons each may attend if they are seated in specific, assigned positions, and there is a distance of at least two meters between the cohorts. (New)
- Organizers must implement measures to fulfill distancing requirements between participants who are not members of the same household at events where the public is seated in fixed, assigned seating positions. If necessary, guards should be used to ensure that this is achieved. (New)
- The regulations have been clarified to state the membership meetings, including association meetings, etc., are deemed to be events. (New)
Outdoor venues and hospitality
- Alcohol may only be served with food. The cut-off time for the serving of alcohol will be 10:00 PM. (New)
- The rules relating to the serving of alcohol at events will be the same as those applicable to licensed restaurants, bars, and cafes. (New)
Source: Office of the Prime Minister / Ministry of Children and Families / Ministry of Education and Research / Ministry of Health and Care Services / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews
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