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CHRISTMAS

Santa’s sleigh deemed fit to fly by Norway

Norwegian officials have potentially saved Christmas for millions of children worldwide - by formally giving Santa’s sleigh a licence to fly.

Santa's sleigh deemed fit to fly by Norway
Santa picks up his flying certificate in person. Photo: Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority

The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet) has revealed that it granted a flying certificate to the sleigh ‘Santa One’ on 18th December, stipulating that it can land anywhere inhabitants have written a Christmas wish list. 

Exceptionally the permit, and is valid from 23rd-25th December, will allow Santa to put in an all-nighter: it provides a special dispensation from regulations on pilot rest periods.

“This means that Santa has all his flight operation approvals in order and that his flight will take place in a regulated manner,” said Stein Erik Nodeland, Norway's director general of civil aviation.

The certificate states that the authority had carried out an “assessment of the sleigh’s technical specifications".

"In light of the documentation received the sleigh is deemed to be airworthy in Norwegian airspace,” the certificate says. It cites the American Federal Aviation Authority’s 2010 decision to give Santa's reindeer-powered vehicle a flying permit.

This was the first time that Santa had applied for the necessary permits in Norway, he added:

“If you fly like Santa Claus does in Norwegian airspace, you must abide by our regulations and have a permit,” Nodeland said.

“He has previously flown without permission, but this year he has done everything right.”

Santa – or Julenisse as his Norwegian equivalent is known – is often thought to live in Finnish Lapland, although some claim he lives in the North Pole. In Norway Julenisse is often thought to live in the Norwegian forest.

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CHRISTMAS

Could Christmas in Norway be affected by new Covid-19 measures?

Norway’s government has in the last two days announced tightened rules relating to Covid-19 isolation and face masks. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre sought to reassure the public over plans for the Christmas holidays.

Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th.
Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th. Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

The government on Tuesday announced new measures relating to quarantine rules for confirmed Covid-19 cases and face mask guidelines.

The measures, which are being introduced in response to increasing infection numbers, include more stringent isolation rules, face mask recommendations and a push to vaccinate over 65s with booster jabs as soon as possible.

“On one side, we must avoid full hospitals and strain on the health system. On the other side we must live as normally as possible. We must keep finding the right balance in the measures,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a statement.

Tighter quarantine rules for suspected cases with the new Omicron variant were meanwhile launched on Monday. People who test positive for or are believed to be infected with the Omicron variant will need to isolate for longer than others with the virus.

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In comments during a briefing to press on Tuesday, Støre sought to reassure the public over plans to spend Christmas with loved ones.

“The measures we have introduced are settings that make it possible to celebrate a good Christmas while keeping in mind what you can do with your loved ones,” the PM said in comments reported by newspaper VG.

“We can plan to be with our families at Christmas,” he added.

Last year saw Christmas in Norway significantly impacted by restrictions on the number of people who could meet and mixing between households.

Such far-reaching restrictions are not expected in 2021. Støre did not however rule out additional measures being introduced before December 24th.

“What we have presented today is based on the knowledge we already have,” he said.

“It is the total restrictions that count. If we are in the same situation (as now) when we get to December 24th, you can celebrate Christmas normally,” Støre said, but noted the virus would be present throughout the winter.

The aim of any measures is to keep the pandemic under control throughout the winter, he added.

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