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GOVERNMENT

UPDATED: What you need to know about Norway’s kindergarten reopening

Norway's education minister, Guri Melby, on Wednesday issued guidelines from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training ahead of the opening of kindergartens from April 20. We've updated this with the latest info.

UPDATED: What you need to know about Norway's kindergarten reopening
Children at a kindergarten run by Kanvas. Photo: Kanvas
The guidelines include details on how kindergartens can minimise the risk of infection. We've gone through them and updated our Q&A below. 

What measures are being put in place to reduce the risk of infections? 

Kindergartens are advised to “avoid larger collections of children”, with a maximum of three children per adult for children under three years old and six children per adult for those under six.

Children are to be split into small discreet groups, within which they can play normally. But they should not interact with other groups. The composition of the groups can be changed, but not more often than weekly. 

Kindergarten staff can still comfort and cuddle children in their group, but should wash their hands afterwards. 

The number of toys will be reduced to make cleaning easier. Toys should not be shared between the small groups without being cleaned. 
 
Toys should not be brought from home. 

Children should be outdoors as much as possible. 

Children should not share food or drink. It should be served to them in portions in cups and on plates. 

Kindergarten employees must keep a distance of at least a metre from other adults. 

Cleaning at kindergartens should be “enhanced”. 

All adults working in kindergartens should wash their hands frequently and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, before drying them with disposable paper towels.

The directorate advises kindergartens to put up posters explaining the hand-cleaning regime, and to develop “routines that children find fun to carry out”. 

Employees and children should wash their hands: 

  • On leaving and returning home
  • On arrival at the kindergarten
  • After coughing, sneezing, wiping or picking nose
  • After going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • Before and after meals
  • After sleeping
  • After coming in from outside activity
  • When hands are visibly dirty

Where washbasins are not available, bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitiser should be in place. 

When should I keep my child home? 

If your child show even mild symptoms of respiratory illness, they should stay home until they have been symptom-free for 24 hours. The guidelines stress, though, that children and kindergarten workers with “typical symptoms of hayfever/pollen allergy”, such as itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, they can go to kindergarten. 

If either your child or someone else who lives with you belongs to a risk group, they should be kept home. This might include people with chronic lung disease – such as asthma – diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. It may be that the government will narrow this down so as not to capture too large a share of children. 

If a child lives or is in close contact with someone who has a confirmed coronavirus infection, they should be in quarantine and should not attend school or kindergarten.  

What do I need to know about dropping off and picking up my child? 

If you have flu-like or respiratory symptoms, you should isolate yourself and should not drop off or pick up your child. 

If possible, parents should avoid entering the kindergarten, with children instead meeting staff at the entrance when the day starts, and guardians meeting at the same location when picking up (although if children need extra comforting, parents can if absolutely necessary enter. 

Children should arrive dressed in warm, outdoor clothing. 

Do not bring toys or other things from home. 

Is it compulsory to return my child to kindergarten? 

Kindergarten is not compulsory in Norway, so if you are worried about your child getting or spreading the coronavirus infection, you can choose to keep them home. Just inform the kindergarten's management about your plans. 

It is, though, compulsory to send children to school between the between the ages of 6 and 15, so when your child's school opens after April 27, if they are well, they must attend. 

If you were unwilling to do this, you could always claim that your child is sick. You could also look into home-schooling, which is legal in Norway, although you are unlikely to get a home-schooling request approved at short notice, and you risk losing your child's place at their current school. 

What restrictions are being lifted? 

  • Kindergartens will open from April 20
  • Primary school classes for pupils in years 1–4, and out-of-school care programmes will re-open from April 27. 
  • Upper secondary schools for second-and third-year pupils who following vocational education will be opened from April 27, under new infection control guidelines. 
  • The ban on staying in country cabins will be lifted on April 20.
  • Hairdressers, skin care professionals and other businesses where there is one-to-one contact will be allowed to resume operations, under new guidelines from April 27. 
  • Psychologists, physiotherapists, and other health practitioners who have close contact with patients will after April 20 be allowed to start giving treatment. 
  • Parents or guardians who need to cross the border between Norway and another country in order to maintain contact arrangements with children will be excused quarantine (no exact date has been given, but it will come “quickly”. 
  • Sports can be resumed if it is possible to follow the recommendations of the Norwegian Directorate of Health on social distancing and group size. 

What restrictions will remain in place? 

  • Primary and lower secondary schools will remain closed for years 5–10, and these pupils will continue to receive remote schooling. 
  • Upper secondary schools with no vocational element will remain closed
  • Fitness centres, swimming pools, and water parks will stay closed
  • No visitors are allowed at old people's homes and other institutions for vulnerable groups
  • Most bars and restaurants will remain closed. 
  • Libraries, passport offices, and the public access areas in police stations will remain closed 
  • Stricter border controls will remain, with foreign nationals lacking a residence permit refused entry

 

 

 

 

 

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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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