The government and the City of Oslo announced, independently of each other, new measures on Monday as the country aims to cut off an increase in cases of coronavirus.
Despite seeing one of Europe's lowest coronavirus infection rates, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced tighter restrictions aimed at nipping a resurgence in the bud.
“You can make small adjustments now… or you take strong measures later,” Solberg told a press conference.
“We have chosen the strategy of prudence with smaller restrictions now,” she said.
The new national rules take effect from Wednesday, while Oslo’s are effective from Thursday.
- Norway tightens restrictions to prevent virus resurgence as Oslo adds measures
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Nationally, the maximum number of attendees for private events outside the home has been cut from 200 to 50, and homes were told not to host more than five guests not from the same household.
In Oslo, restrictions include a ban on private gatherings of over 10 people and mandatory use of face masks on congested public transport.
National advice asks people in Norway not to see more than 5 people in a week socially, while Oslo has limited this at 10 people.
Schools and other educational institutions have not been closed, but classes should take place digitally wherever possible, the government has requested.
“The most important thing is to limit the number of people you are in contact with. If you do that, you limit the risk of getting infected and infecting others if you don’t know you are infected yourself,” assistant director of the Norwegian Directorate of Health Espen Nakstad told VG.
Sharing a classroom or lecture theatre with other students does not count as a social contact, Nakstad told the newspaper.
“Anything related to work, studies, leisure activities or school is not part of a social or private context. Social private gatherings are when you meet friends socially because you feel like it. Everything that happens at places of study is as before. It’s when you meet friends privately that you must stick to the five-person rule,” he explained.
Around a third of Norway's cases are in Oslo, according to an NIPH report from October 24th. While the number of new cases in the city of 700,000 remained steady at around 300 a week throughout September, the number rose to 425 last week.
The situation with the virus in the city has impacted the near-100,000 students, including international students, at universities and folk high schools (høyskoler) in the capital, with reports emerging of infections at accommodations.
Oslo Municipality head of communications Hanne Gjørtz said that the municipality recommends classes and exams take place online as far as possible, VG reports.
Rules on wearing face masks on campus “will be ready on Thursday”, Gjørtz said.
She also advised students to “try to create your own groups that can be together within the regulations” in order to avoid loneliness.
“The purpose of the rules is not for everyone to be alone, but to limit the number of social contacts so that we avoid infections and make any infection tracing easier,” she added.