‘A recommendation and not a law’: Norway trusts public over face mask guidelines

Norway’s government announced on Friday that it is now recommending face masks for use on public transport.

'A recommendation and not a law': Norway trusts public over face mask guidelines
A file photo of a woman at a bus stop in Oslo. Photo: Vidar Nordli-Mathisen /Unsplash

The recommendations apply initially to Oslo and the Indre Østfold municipality as well as to journeys to and from these locations.

They take effect for an initial 14 days.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Norway: Face masks recommended on Oslo public transport

The new guidelines on face masks are a recommendation and therefore not a mandatory requirement which authorities can enforce.

Norway’s Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet) is confident that members of the public will understand the seriousness of the situation and follow the recommendations, the authority’s director Bjørn Guldvog said to VG.

“It’s not relevant to use the police to control compliance with this recommendation. Local transport companies can decide whether to use security personnel or other staff to advise passengers,” he said.


Operating company Ruter is responsible for the running of buses in Oslo. The firm’s press spokesperson Knut-Martin Løken told VG that Ruter does not have the authority to enforce either the wearing of face masks or sanctions for not wearing them.

“This is a recommendation and not a law,” Løken told the newspaper.

As such, passengers who use buses, trams or underground rail in Oslo will not be asked to disembark if they refuse to wear face masks, he confirmed.

Information posters outlining face mask recommendations will be placed by Ruter on board buses, trams and underground T-bane trains.

National rail operator Vy will, like Ruter, not ask passengers to leave trains if they do not wear face masks.

“This is voluntary. It is passengers’ own responsibility to wear a face mask and keep a one-metre distance,” Vy head of communication Nina Schage told VG.

“If (the train) is full, we encourage you to consider a different departure,” she added.

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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.