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NORWEGIAN HEALTH MINISTER BENT HØIE ANNO

SOLBERG

Norway to open kindergartens in first step to end lockdown

Norway's government has announced plans to open kindergartens from April 20 in the first stage of a gradual lifting of the country's coronavirus lockdown.

Norway to open kindergartens in first step to end lockdown
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg watched Health Minister Bent Høie at the press conference on Tuesday. Photo: Screen grab
“Our ambition is that all students, in one way or another, should be able to return to school before the summer,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. 
 
One week after kindergartens open, on April 27, pupils in their first four years of school (up until the age of eleven), will return to classes, with the higher grades also returning at some point before the summer, the government said. 
 
In a press release, the government estimated that the decision would allow about 275,000 children to return to kindergartens on 20 April, and 250,000 to primary schools on 27 April, freeing hundreds of thousands of the parents from the need to provide childcare during working hours. 
 
University students who are near the end of their studies and have a need to be physically present at their institution will also be allowed to return. Those would include nursing and medical students, those studying art, performance, music, media, and design, and also those studying maths and technological subjects. 
 
Solberg stressed though that the move did not amount to a decision to allow a controlled increase in infections to develop immunity in the population.
 
“We want to stick to what we know works. We must continue with the 'knock-down' strategy,” she said.  “What we are doing now is opening up a little, but I want to emphasise as strongly as I can, that this does not mean that we can become more careless in other areas.” 
 
Norway's government also said it would lift the unpopular ban on people staying in their country cabins, with stays allowed from April 20, although the government stressed that it continued to advise against unnecessary travel.
 
Parents who cross national borders to visit their children will be excused the normal 14-day quarantine. 
 
Hairdressers and other businesses that are closed to protect people against infection will be allowed to open from April 27, but the government intends to draw up guidelines informing them on how to operate in a way which minimises infection. 
 
The ban on cultural, sporting and other events will be extended until June 15, although ordinary sports activities will be allowed if they do not conflict with social distancing recommendations. 
 

One-on-one healthcare providers, such as psychologists, physiotherapists and psychologists, will be be able to treat patients again from April 20.  

Education minister Guri Melby said the government was now working with schools and kindergartens on what measures needed to be taken to minimise the spread of the virus once they open. 

 

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OSLO

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

Shopping 

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. 

Hospitality 

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. 

Schools 

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

Work

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. 

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