Norway won’t let child have ‘foreign’ name

A proud mother and father in Stavanger in south-western Norway have had the joy at the arrival of their new baby girl somewhat tempered by the authorities’ inability to register her name.

Mother Anna Drangeid Risholm told local newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad she wanted baby Livia to grow up with the last names of both her parents.

But the surname of the 7-week-old's Spanish father, Juan Carlos Carpio Patiño, proved too much for a population registry that can’t handle most diacritical marks.

This means the baby now goes by the name Livia Patino Risholm in all official documents, much to the consternation of her mother.

“Patino is a completely different name from Patiño. It’d be like calling me Hanna instead of Anna,” she told Stavanger Aftenblad.

The tax administration tasked with registering people’s names admitted it had been caught off guard by the arrival of so many immigrants to Norway in recent years.

“Some foreign symbols are accepted but only very few,” local population registry chief Inger Hageberg Øvrebø told the newspaper.

The only non-Norwegian letters that currently pass muster are Ä, Á, É, È, Ô, Ö and Ü. One tax agency boss said the introduction of more new symbols was fraught with its own set of problems, since this would vastly increase the likelihood of typing errors.  

Hageberg Øvrebø hopes the list can soon be expanded but said it was expensive to add new symbols to the agency’s ageing system.

But she also stressed that it would remain difficult to keep everybody happy, citing her own name as an example of the problems the authorities face.

“My surname is never spelled correctly when I’m out travelling. And I would have had major problems if I’d tried to register Øvrebø abroad,” she told Stavanger Aftenblad.

That's scant consolation for Anna Drangeid Risholm, who still can't quite believe her daughter has been given the wrong name.

"I thought it was some sort of mistake," she told the newspaper. "With so many foreigners in the country, it's silly that they can't have their own family names."

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Norway Burger King ordered to close for breaking corona rules

A branch of Burger King in Norway was ordered to close on Saturday night after inspectors judged it was allowing customers to rub up too closely together.

Norway Burger King ordered to close for breaking corona rules
The branch of Burger King in Stavanger's main square. Photo: Google Maps
The restaurant in Stavanger, the capital of the country's oil industry, was visited by inspectors from the city government late on Saturday night, and judged not to be meeting infection control requirements.  
“The restaurant was closed because they did not comply with the guidelines for distance between the customers,” Øyvind Berekvam, a spokesperson for the municipality, told Norway's state broadcaster NRK
Norway requires all bars and restaurants to ensure that customers and personnel can maintain a distance between one another of at least one metre. 
Heidi Moss, the marketing manager for King Food, which has run Burger King's Norway franchise sine 1988, said that the chain was looking at how to make sure there could be no infringements at its other 109 restaurants in the country. 
“We are of course taking the event in Stavanger very seriously,” she told NRK. “We want to avoid similar situations and are right now looking at measures that can be implemented.”
She said she was considering where possible putting place a one-way system in restaurants with separate entrances and exits, and also perhaps hiring security guards. 
The closure marked the first time a bar or restaurant has been shut down for non-compliance in Stavanger since the coronavirus pandemic began in March. 
Runar Johannessen, the head of infection control in Stavanger, said he believed that all nightspots should employ security guards to make sure customers follow distancing requirements. 
“It is a challenge to adhere to the guidelines when there is as little contagion as there is now, but with no idea how this develops,” he said. 
For example, it may be to return to stay open day and night, guard when there are many guests waiting and differentiated entrance and exit so that there is a one-way walk through the restaurant, according to the marketing manager.