Norway’s royal couple embarks on its first trip since the corona pandemic started: “Happy”

King Harald - Queen SonjaPhoto: Lise Åserud / POOL NTB
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Norway’s royal couple will go on a trip to Western Norway to hear how Norwegians have felt during the pandemic. But they hope to avoid large crowds.

“We appreciate this visit immensely. It is interesting that the royal couple may have noticed that several municipalities have additionally suffered in this corona pandemic,” Mayor Trygve Skjerdal (SP) of Aurland Municipality told news bureau NTB.

After 15 months of the pandemic, the royal couple is moving out on their first official tour of Norway after the virus struck – a three-day trip to Flåm, Hyllestad, and Florø. 

The first stop is Flåm, where the Aurland mayor will be standing on the quay when the royal ship arrives on Tuesday morning. The tourist village and the cruise port have experienced their most important industry being choked almost overnight.

“We are a Municipality that has felt the consequences of the corona (pandemic) unusually hard, but to date, we have not had a single person infected. It is a paradox, I think, and it may be that the royal couple and the staff around think the same,” Skjerdal said when asked why he thinks the royal couple wants to visit Flåm.

Spicing up everyday life

In planning the trip, the County Governor in Western Norway has emphasized the importance of avoiding public gatherings for the sake of infection control.

“There will be fewer people than we are used to, but we are happy that we can travel around a bit again,” Queen Sonja said about the trip on Thursday. However, the population in the western municipalities is invited to accompany the royal ship with small boats during the voyage.

“At the same time, we encourage people to use their flags diligently to show that we appreciate the visit. It has been a clear request from the County Governor that we do not plan for large public gatherings,” Skjerdal said.

The visit to Flåm is especially about the tourism industry, with a visit to Fretheim hotel, meetings with tourism actors, and a visit to Ægir brewery planned.

Hit by outbreaks

At the next stop, Hyllestad, Mayor Kjell Eide (AP) is ready to receive the royal couple on the quay on Wednesday. The Municipality was hit hard when the cornerstone company, the shipyard Havyard, was hit by the coronavirus.

“We had a major outbreak last autumn, and that is probably something they have noticed. The royal couple will be briefed on this at the shipyard, where we will explain what the pandemic has done to us and how we see the time ahead,” he said.

Hyllestad has also made the necessary infection control considerations in the preparations.

“There will not be large gatherings with people waving. But we have engaged school classes and kindergartens to attend. We live in an area where people do not flock in large numbers, but there will probably be some along the roads.”

No large gatherings

The last stop on the trip will be Florø on Thursday. Last year, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess also visited Norway’s westernmost city.

“I know that the queen appreciates the landscape here. She has been a lot in our area and gone for walks, and it may have contributed to them coming,” Mayor Ola Teigen (AP) of Kinn Municipality said.

In Florø, the theme will mainly be how the Municipality coped with the pandemic and its consequences for culture, volunteering, and business. The mayor is not worried that there will be large gatherings of people.

“I hope it will be a small folk festival. I hope people come out and take the opportunity to see the ship at sea and see the royal couple on land. But of course, we must be careful with the correct distance and infection control,” he said.

Queen Sonja made it clear that the royal couple is also looking forward to the opportunity.

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

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