Oslo’s city government leaders from the Labour Party admitted on Wednesday that it’s not easy to keep up with all the ever-changing national and local rules aimed at preventing the spread of the Corona virus. Their main message, however, was that the “social shutdown” first imposed in the capital late last year will continue.
“We have to continue to meet the fewest numbers of people possible, stay home and remain vigilant about upholding infection measures,” Raymond Johansen of Labour proclaimed once again.
He confirmed that local bars and restaurants still won’t be allowed to serve alcoholic beverages for at least two more weeks. That’s actually in line with what Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg and her government coalition had urged as well earlier this week, claiming that it was too early to ease measures aimed at limiting people from gathering socially.
Opposition parties in Parliament led by Johansen’s own Labour Party and Solberg’s former government partner, the Progress Party, later forced through an end to the national ban on serving alcohol. They wanted local governments to be able to decide for themselves whether drinks can be served, based on local infection levels.
It’s thus somewhat ironic that Johansen actually agreed with Solberg that it’s too early to allow people to go out and meet for drinks, at least in Oslo. “In the past few days around 1,800 people in Oslo have been infected,” Johansen said. “We have good control and the growth in infection levels has stopped, but we are far from finished (with being threatened by Covid-19),” Johansen said.
He’s also maintaining “red” alert status for high schools and junior high schools in Oslo, meaning that digital instruction will continue. He claimed that easing restrictions down to the “yellow” level “will be among the first things we consider” if infection levels remain under control.
“When we open up again, the first priority will be children and youth,” Johansen promised. “Then we’ll open up for serving drinks when the infection numbers decline, and I have great faith that will happen during the next few weeks.”
Flanked by Labour’s Robert Steen, the city government’s leader for health and welfare issues, the duo did ease some restrictions on local recreational activities for children in Oslo. All other aspects of the “social shutdown” first imposed last fall will continue until infection levels are re-evaluated in early February.
That also means that it’s now illegal for more than 10 people to gather for any private event and Oslo’s city government recommends a maximum of five, and only if everyone can stay at least a meter apart from one another.
Johansen thinks Oslo residents must get used to living with infection levels that are higher than in the rest of the country, and regulations that are stricter.
“We must choose the ‘safer rather than sorry’ way of thinking,” Johansen said. “When we open up again, I hope it will be forever.”