Norway relaxes corona measures: Isolation time reduced, home office no longer mandatory

Jonas Gahr StørePhoto: Annika Byrde / NTB

The Norwegian government eased some of its corona measures on Tuesday.

The alcohol serving ban and the home office requirement, as well as a few other measures, are being lifted. However, the meter of distance and several other measures remain in place.

“Today, we have finally reached the point where we can remove many of the infection control measures we have lived with this winter,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre (AP) said at the press conference.

He pointed out that the omicron variant causes less serious illness and that Norway has good vaccine coverage.

“That is why we can open up a lot today. We can open up despite the fact that the infection is rising quickly,” Støre noted.

This is the first step on the road to a new reopening. While Denmark removed all measures in one fell swoop, the Norwegian health authorities advised the government to act gradually.

The measures that remain in place will likely apply for a few more weeks, the National Institute of Public Health wrote in its advice to the government. The government will make a new assessment on February 17.

Extensive relief

The relief applies from Tuesday at 11 PM. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:

* The alcohol serving ban from 11 PM is being lifted. The requirement for table service is also removed.

* Infection isolation is shortened to four days.

* The requirement for home office is removed. Employers are advised to assess how much home office is right for individual workplaces by themselves.

* The restrictions on the maximum number of participants are removed for public and private gatherings.

* There will be no distance requirements when you sit in your seat at events with fixed seats, such as cinemas, theaters, or the like.

* Schools and kindergartens will no longer operate at a yellow level.

* Organized sports and leisure activities can take place as normal both indoors and outdoors for everyone.

* Amusement parks, playgrounds, arcades, and the like can be reopened.

* The requirement to get tested at the border is being removed.

Isolation period reduced

The isolation time for those infected with corona has been shortened to four days.

Up to now, even people who have no symptoms have had to go into isolation for six days. The National Institute of Public Health (FHI) believes that the current isolation period leads to significant sick absences.

However, the isolation period is not being completely removed, it is being shortened to four days, the government announced at a press conference on Tuesday night.

The infection quarantine requirement is lifted for everyone, but household members and similar relatives are recommended to get tested. Other close contacts without symptoms do not need to be tested but they should pay extra attention to symptoms.

The following corona measures remain in place:

* The rule on one meter of distance still applies in several contexts. Flexibility is allowed for universities and cultural events with fixed seats.

* It is still mandatory to use a face mask when it is not possible to keep one meter of distance from others.

* There is still a requirement for companies to ensure sound infection control measures.

Infection peak expected in February

There is a great deal of fear that sickness absence will become too high – that is why some measures will continue to apply.

The Norwegian health authorities still expect an infection peak in February, with – potentially – more than a hundred hospitalizations per day. 

However, the health authorities argue that it is impossible to slow down the wave without very strict measures and that several factors speak in favor of introducing relief instead.

“The FHI believes that most measures against the epidemic can now be gradually reduced over a short period of time without it leading to a serious increase in risk,” the Institute wrote in its professional advice.

Professional advice

The health authorities point out that the risk of serious illness and death is significantly lower with the omicron variant and the current high vaccination coverage. At the same time, they point out that the measures restrict the freedom of people.

The professional authorities write that the measures are – in some ways – probably worse than infection would have been for some people.

It is also pointed out that it may be better for some people to be infected shortly after getting a vaccine dose and with a milder variant than at a later point in time.

Prime Minister Støre also announced that an external assessment of the government’s pandemic management would take place in the future.

Source : © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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