Today, Norway’s new corona measures come into force. Here’s what you need to know

Erna SolbergPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB
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In order to prevent the spread of infection to the areas with low infection rates, the Norwegian government, following the recommendations of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), is implementing stricter national measures. 

These measures are in effect from 00:01, Thursday, March 25, and will remain in force until further notice. A new assessment will be made before April 12.

“The infection situation has become more unstable. We are observing breakouts in an increasing number of locations across the country. 

“Hospitals have had to cancel planned treatment in order to make place for COVID-19 patients, and the capacity of local agencies for infection control and prevention is strained in many municipalities. 

“The number of breakouts across the entire country has been steadily growing, and we lack a complete overview of the situation,” Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services, warned.

The Easter holidays are likely to increase the risk of the infection spreading because many people may travel more than they usually do and meet more people than usual.

“The new national measures apply to the entire country. In areas with low infection rates, this will be viewed as a tightening of the rules. In places with high infection rates, such as Oslo, Viken, Salten, and Haugalandet, very strict measures are already in force,” Høie said.

“Currently, we observe the more contagious strains of the virus appearing in places that have hardly experienced a single case of infection. We see that a single case may quickly develop into a larger outbreak and that the more contagious strains of the virus cause more serious illness and are harder to contain. 

“This is the experience of the municipalities that for quite some time have been implementing strict measures in their attempts to eradicate the infection.

“We must avoid the same situation developing in larger areas of the country after the Easter holidays. At this point, it is, therefore, necessary to implement even stricter measures at a national level,” Høie emphasized.

NOK 500 million to affected businesses

“We know that these measures will once again affect jobs, particularly in the restaurant and hospitality industry. 

“This is why the government has made a provision in the revised national budget, ensuring an increase of NOK 500 million in the current municipal relief scheme for affected businesses. 

“This comes in addition to the NOK 750 million currently available within this framework.”

The new national measures

New recommendations

  • The one-meter rule is now replaced by the two-meter rule. In situations where you previously had to maintain a one-meter distance, you must now maintain at least a two-meter distance.
  • The government recommends no more than two guests in your home. 
  • If you have arrived from an area with a high infection rate, you should not go on overnight visits and not invite overnight guests either. People who live alone and children and young people under the age of 20 may arrange overnight visits with one or two specific friends.
  • You should limit social contact to the greatest extent possible.
  • The government recommends wearing face masks in places where it is not possible to keep a two-meter distance.
  • The government recommends visiting shopping centers and department stores only in your home municipality.
  • The government recommends postponing all non-essential travel. Exceptions apply in the following situations: 
    • Travel to work when it is not possible to work from home.
    • Students who do not have family members living close to their place of study and who travel home to visit their family.
    • Members of the same household traveling to a cabin together.
  • It has earlier been determined that, effective April 6, all teaching activities at universities, university colleges, and tertiary vocational colleges will be carried out digitally. This will now apply from March 25.

New national regulations based on the COVID-19 Regulations

  • Serving alcohol is prohibited across the entire country.
  • Organized indoor sporting and recreational activities for adults are prohibited, with the exception of elite professional athletes. 
  • Fitness centers may only be open for the residents of the municipality where they are located. Exceptions apply to residents from other municipalities in need of physical rehabilitation, individual exercise regimens, and treatment.
  • Swimming pools shall be closed but may remain open for children’s swimming practice and for persons in need of rehabilitation in a swimming pool.
  • Amusement parks, bingo halls, and similar entertainment facilities will be closed.
  • Employers shall ensure that their employees work from home insofar it is practically feasible.
  • Persons returning to Norway after non-essential foreign travel must stay at quarantine hotels for the entire duration of the quarantine. This will be enforced from 00:01, Monday, March 29. 
  • The government recommends canceling all planned events. In case of events that cannot be postponed, the following rules apply: 
    • Indoor events may be attended by up to 20 persons seated in fixed designated seats.
    • Indoor sporting events may be attended by up to 50 participants under the age of 20 belonging to sports clubs in the same municipality.
    • Outdoor events may only be attended by up to 50 persons.
    • Funerals and burial services may be attended by up to 50 persons seated in fixed, designated seats.

Strict regional and local measures still apply

The government has implemented the strictest level of measures (level A) in 70 municipalities.

“In areas where extremely strict measures have been in force both on the local and regional level, these strict measures will still apply,” Høie said.

Advice for the Easter holidays for 2021 

Social contact

  • Maintain a two-meter distance from others, with the exception of the people you live with (or, in the case of people who live alone, their close contacts).  (new)
  • Wear a face mask when it is not possible to maintain a distance. (new)
  • The government recommends a maximum of two guests in your own home. It is advisable to maintain social contact with the same people in a given period of time. (new)
  • All events that are not strictly necessary should be postponed. (new)
  • You should limit social contact to the greatest extent possible. (new)

Shopping

  • The government recommends only visiting shopping centers and department stores in your home municipality. 

Travels

  • The government advises against all travel abroad.
  • Avoid non-essential domestic travel within Norway.
  • You may travel to a cabin or a hotel in Norway, but avoid public transportation if at all possible. 
  • If you travel to a municipality with fewer restrictions in place, the general rule is to follow the recommendations that apply in your home municipality. 

Work

  • Everyone who can work from home must do so.
  • Employers shall ensure that their employees work from home wherever this is practically feasible. (new)

Sporting and recreational activities

  • Children and young people under the age of 20 may attend training sessions and recreational activities as usual. If required by the nature of the activity, they are exempt from the recommendation to maintain a one-meter distance.
  • Children and young people under the age of 20 may take part in sporting events gathering participants from the same municipality. Such indoor events may be attended by up to 50 persons.
  • The limit for outdoor activities is 50 persons, including the athletes, coaches, referees, and, if applicable, the spectators. If children and young people take part in joint training sessions with a sports club from another municipality, they will be allowed to compete with members of this club, provided this is possible given the current infection rates.
  • Children and young people under 20 years of age who practice sports not involving close contact such as skiing may participate in outdoor sporting events gathering participants from the same sports division or region, where “region” is understood as a geographical term.
  • Adults may participate in organized training sessions outdoors if it is possible to maintain sufficient distance from others.
  • Professional elite athletes may continue their usual training sessions, both indoors and outdoors.
  • Professional elite sports events are allowed, with the exception of league matches which it is still recommended to postpone. This also applies to practice matches played against other teams outside one’s own sports club. This also applies to sports in the off-season, such as football (soccer). Reducing mobility and social contact is still recommended.

Higher education

  • Facilities at universities, university colleges, and tertiary vocational colleges are closed to students, and all teaching activities are carried out digitally. Libraries and reading rooms may be open. (new)
  • Institutions may make exceptions from the requirement to close certain facilities if access is essential for students who depend on conducting experiments or practical skills training that cannot be carried out digitally and that is necessary for maintaining academic progress within the given study program. (new)

Nationwide rules

Sporting and recreational activities

  • Organized indoor sporting and recreational activities for adults, with the exception of elite professional athletes, are prohibited. (new)
  • Fitness centers may only be open for the residents of the municipality where they are located. Exceptions apply to residents from other municipalities in need of physical rehabilitation, individual exercise regimens, and treatment.
  • Swimming pools shall be closed but may remain open for children’s swimming practice and for persons in need of rehabilitation in a swimming pool.
  • Amusement parks, bingo halls, and similar entertainment facilities shall be closed. (new)

Travel

  • Persons returning to Norway after non-essential foreign travel must stay at quarantine hotels for the entire duration of the quarantine. (new – to be enforced from 00:01 Monday, March 29).

Private gatherings and events:

  • Indoors: 20 persons in fixed, designated seats (decreased from 100)
  • Indoors: 50 persons at funerals and burial services in fixed, designated seats (decreased from 100)
  • Indoors: 50 persons at sporting events for persons under 20 years of age belonging to sports clubs in the same municipality 
  • Outdoors: 50 persons at events (decreased from 200 or 600 in fixed, designated seats). 

Restaurants, cafés, bars, and hotels licensed to serve alcohol

  • Serving alcohol is prohibited. (new)

Source: Ministry of Health and Care Services / #Norway Today /#NorwayTodayNews

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