Government eases some restrictions

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The Norwegian government has eased some Corona containment measures on a national basis, on the condition that local restrictions will be put in place in the event of virus outbreaks. It means that areas with low infection rates will have more freedom to allow, for example, up to 600 spectators at outdoor sporting events.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, announcing how her government is easing some national restrictions and giving local governments more latitude if infection rates are low. PHOTO: SMK

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, accompanied by her cabinet ministers in charge of health and culture, said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the goal was to gradually reopen sporting events for adults. Three groups of 200 people will now be allowed into outdoor stadiums, with just one seat between them instead of at least two. Families will be allowed to sit together.

Solberg’s government also decided to once again allow bars to serve alcoholic beverages after midnight, if local infection rates are low. The new, more relaxed rules will take effect from October 12.

“We are now in a different situation than when we had to shut down in March,” Solberg said. “Local governments are better prepared and we know more about the Corona pandemic.” She said it’s thus now possible to tailor anti-infection reguations in an effort to reduce the burden on various communities.

Wide variations nationwide
She also stressed how the infection situation varies around the country. While Oslo is currently experiencing high infection levels and has had to impose stricter measures, she noted, some cities and towns have little or no infection at all. The government doesn’t think they should have to endure the same restrictions as Oslo, or Bergen just two weeks ago, where private gatherings were limited to just five people. The southern coastal city of Arendal has also had to crack down on a local outbreak this week.

Local officials must remain vigilant, under the new rules, and adjust restrictions in accordance with infection levels. Health Minister Bent Høie had a disagreement with Oslo officials earlier this week, claiming they weren’t being strict enough, but now the capital has tightened restrictions and Høie said Wednesday that most cities “have done a good job” imposing measures tailored for their areas.

Performing artists protest
The government’s partial relaxation comes just as performing artists, musicians, concert- and theater technicians and people who arrange special events were mounting demonstrations in Oslo Wednesday, demanding to be allowed to have audiences of as many as 1,000 people at concerts in large venues. They were marching through downtown and intended to illuminate theaters and other cultural buildings around town with red lights Wednesday evening, to demonstrate how they’re all bleeding financially under restrictions that still limit audiences to a maximum of 200, or even less. The recent outbreak in Oslo has reduced audiences to just 5o in venues without assigned seating.

Eivind Gullberg Jensen, incoming leader of the Bergen National Opera, told newspaper Aftenposten this week that he thinks large opera venues and symphony halls should be able to have audiences of at least 600.

Performers and stage crews are especially unhappy that they stand to lose their Corona crisis compensation as of November 1. It has covered up to 80- or 90 percent of lost income on cancelled events but stands to run out before restrictions are relaxed.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund