Norwegian businesses fear the worst after alcohol sales banned in Oslo

Norwegian businesses fear the worst after alcohol sales banned in Oslo
Illustration photo: Alexander Jawfox on Unsplash
Oslo announced on Friday a tightening of local restrictions in the city aimed at reducing the number of new coronavirus cases, including a blanket ban on serving alcohol.

Amongst a series of new restrictions, the ban on all restaurants, bars and cafes in the city from serving alcohol at any time was perhaps the most remarkable.

Businesses which normally serve alcoholic drinks are allowed to stay open under the new restrictions, but without serving alcohol.

READ ALSO: Norwegian capital tightens coronavirus restrictions including alcohol sales ban

The restrictions come into effect on Monday for an initial three weeks.

“We cannot hesitate in the face of such a dramatic development. We must reduce the infection before it has far-reaching consequences for the elderly, vulnerable and our health care system.

“We are now introducing a social lockdown of Oslo,” executive mayor Raymond Johansen said on Friday, in reference to escalation cases of Covid-19 in the city.

545 new cases of Covid-19 were registered in Norway's capital last week over the course of a few days. Figures from the Oslo health authority state 124 cases in the last 24 hours and 1,632 in the last 14 days.

The closure of bars has been described as a decision which will have “enormous consequences” for the nightlife and hospitality industry, VG reports.

“This is critical. The (alcohol) serving sector is a large and important industry in Oslo, and we have ever since the lockdown in March been the part of society hardest-hit by restrictions,” Kim Søyland, general manager of the ByOslo Group company which owns several establishments in the city, told VG.

The majority of revenues for the company’s various businesses come from serving alcohol, he added.

The general manager said that Oslo as well as Bergen, which is also under tight local restrictions, could risk bankruptcies without state relief for affected businesses.

“If the government or parliament does not quickly come into play with a compensation programme which is good enough, many will see economic consequences,” he said.

Young, part-time workers in the industry could be particularly hard hit as a consequence, Søyland noted.

In addition to the ban on serving alcohol, all gyms, cinemas, theatres, swimming pools and play centres have also been closed as part of the clampdown.

“The government’s strategy for compensation measures with an expiry date of February and limited to some industries doesn’t go far enough. How hard a business is hit by the pandemic and public health protection measures must be the decisive factor in compensation, not the sector in which they are defined,” Ivar Horneland Kristensen, CEO of union Virke, told VG.


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