Norwegian restaurants frustrated over new corona measures: “This will bankrupt an entire industry”

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Several restaurants and food establishments in Norway fear they will have to limit their capacity even further due to new government corona regulations.

Health Minister Bent Høie (H) told newspaper VG that the government had clarified its corona rules after receiving reports that people were sitting too close to each other.

The changes took effect on Tuesday night, at the same time as the national liquor ban was lifted.

People living in the same household can sit closer than one meter away if they wish, but restaurants will have to provide at least one meter of distance from shoulder to shoulder of each seat. 

That’s the latest clarification of the regulations. 

Some to shut down

In the restaurant sector, the regulatory change is seen as invasive, and several restaurants say they are now likely to have to limit their capacity on a larger scale.

“If we have to reduce the number of customers, it means that we will have to shut down,” Torstein Voksø Eek, co-owner of the Bass and EFFEF Østersbar restaurant in Oslo, told VG.

His restaurant will lose half of its seats.

“We will only accommodate 14 guests at Bass, and it won’t work,” he noted.

“Unacceptable”

Jørn Lie and Eirik Lillebø, who run the restaurants Gamle Raadhus, Vaaghals, and Code in Oslo, told newspaper Aftenposten/E24 that people in the industry are frustrated. 

They estimate that they will need to reduce capacity by 50%.

“There will be a bankruptcy avalanche… This is going to bankrupt an entire industry. It’s completely unacceptable,” Lillebø said.

In an email to Aftenposten, Deputy Director of Health Espen Rostrup Nakstad wrote that they understand that the situation feels demanding. 

However, the regulatory clarification was important to keep the spread of infection in food outlets at a low level, according to Nakstad.

Victoria Marie Evensen (AP) says the Oslo municipality has received many inquiries from a frustrated industry in the last 24 hours. 

“I think the sum of all the restrictions is about to exceed what many can bear. We are approaching a limit where it is difficult for many people to remain open,” Evensen said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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