UPDATE: Norway bans big events as coronavirus hits ‘new phase’

Norwegian health authorities have called for all who can to work from home, and for all events involving more than 500 people to be cancelled, as the coronavirus infection in the country enters "a new phase".

UPDATE: Norway bans big events as coronavirus hits 'new phase'
Workers in Norway are encouraged not to use the bus or tram: Photo: Bonanza Grim Evensen/Ruter
The Norwegian Directorate of Health announced the new measures at a press conference on Tuesday evening, before confirming the limit on large gatherings and the call for homeworking in two press releases.  
“We are now in a new phase,” Director General Bjørn Guldvog said. “Over the last 24 hours we have received the first cases of infection that cannot be traced.” 
“I want to emphasise that the situation is serious. We all have to take responsibility. In this way, we can achieve what we have been talking about all along: To get the lowest possible spread of infection, and thus take care of all the people in Norway in the best possible way.” 
Norway's VG tabloid on Wednesday evening reported that there were now 407 cases in the country, collating reports from each municipality. This is considerably above the official 277 figure reported on Tuesday evening by the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, which takes longer to collate the municipal figures.  
Health Minister Bent Hoie told Norwegians they should start preparing for a medium pandemic scenario, where 22,000 people are hospitalised. 
“Measures taken must be based on good, professional assessments and implemented only when appropriate,” he said. “It may be that we see more radical measures.” 
At the press conference Line Vold, department director at FHI, said that at least five of the cases appeared to have no connection to travel abroad or to contact with anyone who had travelled abroad. 
“We are assuming that there not yet a lot of ongoing infection taking place that we have not yet discovered, but there will always be dark numbers, because we are unable to test everyone.” 
Shortly after the press conference, Dag Jacobsen, head of the intensive care unit at Oslo University Hospital, warned that the measures would not be sufficient to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed in future days as the number of infections increases. 
“The recommendation of the Norwegian Medical Association is a ban on all events over 50 participants, not 500,” he said. “The use of buses and trams must be limited. We should impose compulsory home office work for everyone possible. I don't think people realise how serious the situation is that we are facing.” 

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EXPLAINED: What Oslo’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions means for you

Most, but not all, of the Norwegian capital's local Covid restrictions have been lifted to fall in line with national coronavirus rules, with new limits on guests at home and new guidance on face masks. Here’s a rundown of what the latest restrictions mean for you.

EXPLAINED: What Oslo's easing of Covid-19 restrictions means for you
Oslo's skyline. Photo by Oscar Daniel Rangel on Unsplash

Covid-19 measures in Oslo have been relaxed, with the majority of local restrictions being replaced with the looser national rules.

The new rules are a mix of steps three and four of the city’s five-step reopening plan and were introduced after the lowest infection numbers since last autumn were recorded in Oslo last week. 

Last week, 239 coronavirus infections were registered in the Norwegian capital. 

“The gradual, controlled opening of Oslo has been a success. Many of the rules that the people of Oslo have been expected to live with are now being removed, and we will essentially live with the same corona rules as people elsewhere in Norway,” Oslo’s Executive Mayor Raymond Johansen said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Not all local restrictions have been lifted however, meaning there are a mix of local and national rules in place. 

Below we’ll take a look at how the measures will affect everyday life in Oslo. 

At home 

The significant change here is that the ban on having more than ten people gathered at home has been lifted completely. Instead, this will be replaced with the national recommendation not to have more than guests. 

So while it will not be recommended to have more than ten guests, it’s not an enforceable rule anymore. 

READ MORE: What happens if you get caught breaking the Covid-19 rules in Norway


The local rules for shopping malls and stores have been tweaked too. There will no longer be any rule that makes face masks mandatory in shops. In addition to this, the official social distancing measure has been halved, to one metre, and the limit on the number of people allowed in shops has been scrapped. 

However, it’s worth noting that some shops may wish to keep some infection control measures in place if they feel it helps keep staff and shoppers safe, so it may be worth bringing a mask along on your next trip to the shops just in case.

Face masks  

The rule on mandatory face masks in public has also been given the axe, with two exceptions. 

You will still need one if you are taking public transport or taking a taxi. 

Masks will no longer be needed in shops, gyms, museums and galleries, indoor swimming pools, spa facilities and hotel facilities such as pools and dining areas. 

Although, some places may still wish to continue with a mask policy, so always remember to have one handy to be sure. 


At indoor public places, such as restaurants, 50 people are allowed in venues without fixed assigned seats and 200 people at events with set, assigned seats.

Outdoors, 200 people can gather in cohorts of three, meaning a potential venue of 600 for places with the space and capacity and where there is fixed designated seating.

Soon, when the government changes its rules for events, up to 5,000 people will be able to gather when there is a seating plan in place, provided venues aren’t operating above 50 percent capacity.  

Up to 20 people can book a table at a restaurant or bar when indoors and 30 people outdoors. 

Alcohol will now be able to be served until midnight rather than 10 pm, and this rule will stay in place until July 4th. The cut-off point will remain in place even if national rules change and allow alcohol to be served later. 

Sports, leisure and entertainment 

Bingo halls, bowling alleys, arcades, playgrounds can now reopen.

Oslo’s numbers cap on the people allowed in gyms, museums, galleries, and indoor pools has been lifted. 

Now, 20 people can work out, go for a swim, or take in some art indoors, and up to 30 can do so outdoors. 


Restrictions for schools and kindergartens haven’t changed, however. 

This means that schools and kindergartens in Oslo will remain at yellow level. 

Yellow level means that full class sizes are allowed, but mixing between classes must be kept to a minimum. Yellow level also means increased cleaning and hygiene measures are also in place. 

You can read more about yellow level here

Adult education and university are at red level, which means digital learning where possible and minimal contact between students and teachers. 

You can read more on red level here


People are still required to work from home where possible until July 4th. 

Executive mayor Johansen has previously said the home office would be one of the last pandemic measures to go, meaning it could be here for a while longer.