Bergen: Norwegian city to lock down as coronavirus restrictions tightened

A strict new round of coronavirus restrictions are to be introduced in western city Bergen after 103 new cases of Covid-19 were detected.

Bergen: Norwegian city to lock down as coronavirus restrictions tightened
Bergen. Illustration photo: Nathan Van de Graaf on Unsplash

Museums, gyms and grass roots sport are among areas facing shutdown as Bergen heightens measures to restrict coronavirus infections.

Bars, cafes and restaurants will be banned from serving alcohol after 9:30pm, NRK reports.

Other measures, which come into effect on Saturday, are as follows:

  • A limit of 20 people at any public gathering. Events without fixed seating are banned. Funerals are exempted and allowed a limit of 50 attendees.
  • Restaurants, cafes, bars and similar must close by 10pm and stop serving alcohol by 9:30pm.
  • Grass roots (organised) sport (breddeidrett) and amateur culture for adults over 20 is banned.
  • Swimming pools and gyms to be closed.
  • Sports training for children and youths under 20 allowed, but no competitions.
  • Bingo halls, museums and similar to be closed.
  • Libraries closed to activity and public use, but open for loaning and returning of books.
  • Shops and malls must ensure number of customers does not prevent two-metre social distance being maintained.
  • Passengers and drivers in taxis must wear face masks.

The measures, which are in force until November 23rd, apply in Bergen and neighbour municipalities Alver, Askøy, Bjørnafjorden, Osterøy, Samnanger, Vaksdal and Øygarden, NRK reports.

“This is now about stopping the spread of infection so we don’t get a large, uncontrolled outbreak. Not least to avoid a breakdown in the health service,” Roger Valhammer, head of the city government in Bergen, told NRK.

The measures announced Friday come in the wake of the following, which were presented on Thursday:

  • Maximum of five people in private homes. Exceptions for homes where more than five people live, and where children have guests from their regular school or childcare cohorts. The previous limit was ten people.
  • Working from home now a requirement (previously a recommendation) wherever possible.
  • University and folk high school classes to take place online.
  • Adult grass roots sports and leisure activities to close.

“We must stay at home for the next weeks. Limit who you meet and how many you meet. Now is not the time to take chances,” Valhammer said.

Norway has seen increasing Covid-19 numbers in recent weeks, particularly in the cities, but the situation remains less severe than in many European countries.

A total of 88 people were reported hospitalised with Covid-19 in Norway on Friday, the highest number in the country since April.

READ ALSO: Norway announces strict new coronavirus measures: Here are the details to know

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Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.