Oslo goes into lockdown – again

Raymond JohansenPhoto: Fredrik Hagen / NTB

“We are now approaching the one-year anniversary of the first lockdown in Oslo. The time we are now going through is historic. No one has paid a greater price than the people of Oslo. Nevertheless, I stand here and will ask for more from you,” Oslo City Council chief Raymond Johansen (AP) said at Sunday’s press conference on the corona situation in the capital.

“I know that what I am asking for is a lot and intrusive,” he added.

Johansen announced that the City Council now recommends people avoid private gatherings and visits to private homes. 

In addition, upper secondary schools will have to operate at the “red” level, and restaurants will be closed. 

The reason for the tightening in the capital is a sharp rise in infection rates recently. The new closure is valid from midnight on Tuesday, March 2 to March 15.

SMS sent out

“The main picture is still social closure in Oslo, as we have had for almost four months,” Johansen noted.

On Sunday evening, the Oslo City Council sent an SMS to the inhabitants in which it was emphasized that it would be difficult for everyone but that extra effort is needed to beat the pandemic.

“Keep your distance, meet few people, and stay home when you are sick,” the message said.

Increase in infection

No upper secondary school students should attend school on Monday or Tuesday, and they must have either digital teaching or be tuition-free. 

From Wednesday, there will be a mixture of physical attendance and digital teaching.

“We have to tighten up in upper secondary school,” Vice Mayor for Education and Knowledge Inga Marte Thorkildsen (SV) noted.

Red” level introduced

While kindergartens and primary schools in Oslo will continue to operate at the “yellow” level, the “red” level is being introduced for upper secondary schools and adult education.

“We see that the infection has increased fivefold in the age group 16 to 19 years in the last two weeks. We also see that an increasing proportion of cases of infection can be traced back to schools,” Thorkildsen added.

Oslo Municipality has decided to aim for the mass testing of students with saliva samples from March 8 and for the testing of all teachers.

Exceptions for people who live alone

The recommendation to avoid private gatherings and visits does not apply to people who live alone and young people in the same cohort. All restaurants in Oslo must close, with the exception of takeaway.

“And all stores must close, with the exception of stores that are listed in the state list of exceptions, including grocery stores and pharmacies,” Johansen said at the press conference.

Galleries and art sales must also close, Johansen stated.

Travelers encouraged to test themselves

“I ask that all of you who have been on winter vacation also take a test within a week after you come home,” said Vice Mayor for Health Robert Steen (AP) noted at the press conference.

He stated that the authorities have better control over the situation when they discover more infection cases. 

Steen also said he hopes the government will change the vaccine strategy and prioritize areas with high and persistent infection.

Neighboring municipalities informed

Johansen stated that Oslo Municipality has been in contact with the municipalities around Oslo where both shopping centers and hospitality venues are still open.

“We can’t do anything, but our impression is that they should look at their regulations,” he said when asked what the City Council in Oslo thinks about shopping traffic spilling over to the shopping centers in the neighboring municipalities. 

Johansen has met with the State Administrator and Oslo’s neighboring municipalities and informed them of the measures.

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

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