The development of infection over the next two weeks will largely determine the start of 2021. The Prime Minister believes even stricter measures could be implemented if the infection increases.
“We can suddenly get shutdowns that are stronger in January and February, with the current situation. Or we can get the gradual softening that we hope for,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) told news bureau NTB.
“We can get the third wave, as a consequence of people thinking: ‘Now it is not so dangerous, because there are not so many old people who get sick.’ That may be true, but there are still many others who can get very sick from this,” she noted.
Christmas party worries
The Prime Minister has traveled to Bergen to celebrate Christmas.
She has one big concern – that Norwegians have relaxed too much.
“We followed the advice of the health authorities when we opened up and said that there could be more guests at Christmas. But I am worried that not everyone realizes that the prerequisite for this is that people meet fewer people before Christmas, during Christmas, and after the New Year,” Solberg said.
“I must encourage everyone to be very careful at Christmas.”
She recently admitted that the government specifically considered shutting down society for a few weeks around the turn of the year.
Vaccine news – joy and unrest
According to the most optimistic scenario, the vaccination would be in full force over the New Year, and the current strict measures would bring the infection down.
Then, the measures would be gradually lifted, and society could move towards normal.
However, careless holiday celebrations could lead to a flourishing of infection – and stricter measures in January.
“Absolutely. We must be prepared for that. Therefore, it is important that we do not contribute to it,” Solberg added.
“The joy must not make the distance smaller, so to speak.”
The Prime Minister has no doubt that a new boom in infection could mean challenges for the health sector, as many people would become seriously ill.
It will also take time to get all vulnerable groups vaccinated.
Students, pupils, and the elderly
Erna Solberg described some of the main pillars for her corona strategy for 2021.
The plan is to continue testing, isolation, infection tracing, and quarantines, crack down on local outbreaks and continue strict measures locally and nationally.
“I do not envisage that we will be free of national measures until quite far into 2021,” Solberg said.
“But these types of measures create health side effects – loneliness and similar experiences.”
Against this backdrop, she draws out which groups are likely to get relief first:
- Students should be able to see something other than a computer screen and experience increased activity to counteract mental health challenges.
- As few municipalities as possible should have to keep the schools at a “red” level.
- Vaccines for vulnerable elderly people should be able to provide relief in the visit restrictions and thus lead to a better quality of life.
But vaccines notwithstanding, Solberg does not dare to guarantee a normal summer with normal activities for most Norwegians.
“We will gradually be able to increase how many people can be together and what activities we can allow. But the big mass events are last on the list,” she concluded.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today