Norway gradually opens up

Oslo.Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB scanpix

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“Slowly and cautiously” the government is easing up on the corona measures. Kindergartens and schools will open, hairdressers can get back to work and the cabin ban will be lifted.

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But the first relief in the measures against the coronavirus will come after Easter.

“It will be slow and cautious so that we can return home safely,” said Health Minister Bent Høie when he and the government presented the changes in the measures. Here are some of the highlights:

* Kindergartens open April 20, while schools reopen from April 27 for grades 1-4 and SFO (After-School Activity).

* By April 27: Services such as hairdressers and skincare providers can reopen if they meet the requirements for infection control measures.

* The cabin ban will be lifted on April 20.

* Major sports and cultural events are banned until June 15.

* Physiotherapists and psychologists can start working again from April 20 but must follow new infection control standards.

The government emphasizes that the easing should apply throughout the country. Municipalities will be able to open schools and hairdressing salons unless they have to deal with local outbreaks.

Solberg: – Far from half-time
Although the society is to be gradually opened up, the quarantine rules, requirements to keep distance, travel restrictions and hygiene advice are retained.

“What we are doing now is to open up a little. But I want to emphasize as strongly as I can, that this does not mean that we can become more careless in other areas. Other measures and advice are therefore still valid,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Høyre).

She warns against believing that we can now sit back and move fully back to everyday life.

“We are still far from half-time if we are to compare ourselves to a football match. But with good team play, Norway has managed to get control of this virus. The job now is to hold on to this control,” says the Prime Minister.

Towards more normal everyday life
Minister of Education Guri Melby (Venstre) says that the goal of the government is for all children to return to school before the summer.

“But it might not be the same as before March 12. For many it may be in smaller groups, and not everyone may get full days or full weeks,” she says.

The Minister of Education also said that the high schools will open to vocational students in the last two years of their studies on April 27, while universities, colleges and vocational schools open to some students and staff on the same day.

Not won
Health Minister Bent Høie says that better testing and rapid isolation of infected people will be important in the future.

“The fight against the virus has not been won, although we now seem to have reached the goal that on average each person does not infect more than one. We still have to rely on strict contamination measures for a long time,” he says.

The government does not rule out that they may have to tighten again later if the infection flares up again.

“We now have the spread of infection under control, but we also know that losing control is very easy,” says Høie.

In accordance with the advice
The changes in the measures are largely in line with what the government has been advised by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Directorate of Health, which in turn have received recommendations from several expert groups.

However, the Directorate of Health wanted to open the primary schools at all levels, while the government went for reopening only of grades 1-4 in the beginning.

“We suggested a slightly larger range, from grades 1-7. The government has many good arguments for what it has chosen, and I think it is a wise overall assessment,” says Health Director Bjørn Guldvog to NTB.

Director Camilla Stoltenberg of FHI says that it is now important to increase the capacity for testing and detection of infection so that hopefully we can avoid interventions that are so devastating to society.

“We are constantly taking into account the infection, but we are very uncertain about the figures,” says Stoltenberg.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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1 Comment on "Norway gradually opens up"

  1. Yes, thanks to the brilliant folks in Trondheim, we will be able to test intensively and more able to detect the virus, but testing is still after the fact – not directly prevention.

    Everyone facemasking like the U.S. is doing *is* preventative and should *also* be done. Otherwise, this fast, sneaky, and very virulent virus can take off and we’ll be back to square 1.

    If they go ahead with this, my kids had better be safe.

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