Poland blocks hand sanitiser shipments destined for Norway

Poland has prevented hundreds of thousands of bottles of alcohol gel sanitiser from being exported to Norway, demanding that the company instead send the product for use in Polish hospitals.

Poland blocks hand sanitiser shipments destined for Norway
Norenco has long supplied the Nowegian market from Poland. Photo: Norenco
The Norwegian company Norenco manufactures and packages hand sanitiser for the Scandinavian market at a factory it owns in Poland through its local joint venture Norenco Polska.
But at the end of last week, the exports were abruptly halted. 
Arne Haukland, Norenco's chief executive, told The Local that after he applied for an export license, five men arrived at the factory, and demanded to be shown its stock of hand sanitiser. 
“I did not expect that they would be so military — two of them even had guns in their pockets,” he said. “There was one guy from the tax office, one from the customs, and also from the security police.” 
He said the company had then received a letter ordering it to sell any hand sanitiser it had produced to the local city authorities in Lubin at a fixed price, under emergency coronavirus laws passed in Poland at the start of March. 
The seizure will exacerbate the supply problem faced by Norwegian hospitals, as Norenco Polska had planned to export two truckloads a week to Norway, with each containing 20,000 one litre bottles of hand sanitiser. 
“No one is helping us,” he complained. “I've asked the Norwegian government to write a four-line letter, saying 'can we please have these goods from Norenco Polska?', but no one has written the letter.” 
He said that Norenco had now shut down its Polish factory and had nothing in stock to sell to Polish hospitals. 
“We cannot start production before we know that our trucks can get through the border,” he said. “We only produce what's on order. We don't produce for stock.”
“When we have an order, we order alcohol in very big quantities and then we put it in a special machine and we make it very quickly. We can make 20,000 litres in a day.” 

Haukland said that his factory had been supplying Polish hospitals throughout the crisis. 
“We have delivered 120,000 litres to the Polish market — for pharmacies and hospitals — and I think it is fair that it is Norway's turn to get the goods,” he said. 
Dag Sørlie Lund from the law firm Hjort told NRK that the Polish government was probably breaking EEA rules by seizing the product, although he acknowledged that countries are permitted to institute export bans on public health grounds. 

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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.