Swedish authorities will close the Systembolaget bottle shop this Thursday at the border town of Strømstad, in a bid to curb Norwegian drunkenness over the Easter break. Thousands of young Norwegians travel to the area each year to kick off their ‘russ’ celebrations, marking their final semester before high school graduation.
Maundy Thursday is traditionally the most riotous day, so the liquor store will remain closed reported newspaper Aftenposten. “This year we have 50 to 60 extra police officers on the job,” said Jørgen Olsson from Strømstad police. “The ‘russ’ kicks off at the castle in Halden on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and we expect many of them will also come here to party. Therefore we have extra on the job this year.”
He said up to 15,000 people between the ages of 17 to 25 are expected in Strømstad on Maundy Thursday, and about 25 to 30 people will be arrested for drunken behaviour.
“Now we no longer dare to keep Systembolaget in Strømstad open,” said Olsson. “Otherwise drunk youths just use it as a bar. But at the Nordby shopping centre and the rest of Sweden they will be open.” Trips to large bottle shops, supermarkets and shopping centres just across the Swedish border are popular with Norwegians because of the lower prices.