Solberg starts to reopen Norway

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Prime Minister Erna Solberg followed, as expected, state health authorities’ recommendations to begin reopening Norway from Friday, April 16. Many areas including Oslo, however, will likely remain subject to local regulations that are still stricter than national rules.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg launched the first phase of her government’s plan to reopen Norway on Tuesday. Local rules that can be stricter than the national rules, however, will take precedence. PHOTO: Regjeringen.no

“We will need to live with local restrictions for a long time,” Solberg said at a press conference late Tuesday afternoon. “Even though we’re getting some (national) relief, the municipalities need to maintain good preparedness.” She said it thus remained most important to follow the local rules that apply.

The state authorities contend that on a national basis, however, post-Easter holiday infection levels are better than feared. Solberg also noted that there are fewer people in hospitals around the country.

That means that unless stricter local rules apply, some of the national limitations imposed earlier this spring will end in line with her re-opening plans. Norwegians living in areas with low infection will, for example, be able to have five visitors in their homes instead of the current two, even though they’ll still need to stay a meter apart.

Solberg is also repealing a national ban on serving alcohol, meaning that bars and restaurants in areas allowed to reopen can pour drinks again, but only until 10pm and only if food is served as well. Travel will still be discouraged, with Solberg stressing that reduced mobility is an important means of keeping infection under control. There will be some easing of entry restrictions, though, for foreign workers considered critical for the completion of projects or because of special competence.

Private gatherings in rented or borrowed venues will be allowed again, with up to 10 guests indoors and 20 outdoors. Public events can gather up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors if everyone has assigned seats.

For full details of the relaxation of some national rules click here (external link to the government’s website, in Norwegian).

In Oslo, where infection has declined but remains relatively high, city government leader Raymond Johansen was expected to release his own “orientation” about Corona containment measures on Wednesday. He has warned earlier that they’re not likely to be eased.

NewsInEnglish.no/Nina Berglund