Coronavirus: These are Norway’s health guidelines for Christmas gatherings

Norwegian health authorities have announced guidelines on overnight stays and family gatherings during the Christmas holidays.

Coronavirus: These are Norway's health guidelines for Christmas gatherings
Norway's health authorities advise people from different households to sit with a social distance for Christmas dinner. Photo: James Coleman on Unsplash

People in the country should limit themselves to attending or hosting a maximum of two larger gatherings over Christmas, public health authority NIPH and the Directorate of Health state.

If you stay overnight following a gathering, you have used your entire two-occasion quota, NIPH said in guidelines, the authorities recommend in official Christmas guidelines.

The government asked health officials to provide advice in relation to questions many residents in the country might have as to how to follow rules connected to Christmas gatherings, VG reports.

Current coronavirus restrictions in the Nordic country limit households to no more than five outside guests at private gatherings, but that will be extended to ten people on two days at Christmas. Families are to be given free choice over the two days on which they decide to use the provision.

Stricter rules remain in place in capital Oslo, however.

“This advice is important for people to be able to plan Christmas and enjoy themselves in a safe and good way,” assistant health director Espen Nakstad told VG.

A full list of the recommendations is available on the Helsenorge website, although the information is not available in English at the time of writing.

The Christmas guidelines are effective from December 23rd until January 1st.

The health authorities recommend ‘limiting social physical contact’ with people you do not live with throughout Christmas.

In private homes or cabins (hytter), where many head to for their holidays, no more than five guests in addition to household members are advised. But that may be increased to 10 guests on two occasions over Christmas, as per the government’s announcement last week.

It is at these extended gatherings that a maximum of two participations – either as guest or host – is advised.

There should be a minimum of one metre’s social distance between people who don’t live together, the health authorities recommend, including at meals and when giving and receiving gifts.

It is not allowed to consider a couple or a household as a single guest.

Family visits lasting several days, such as from children or grandparents, are permitted. But the limit of five guests applies in these cases and there should be enough space to follow the distance and hygiene recommendations. Guests should have their own rooms.

An overnight stay following a gathering with up to 10 guests should be considered a ‘double gathering’ – as such, the quota for both gatherings is used up by overnight stays, so no other gatherings should be attended or invited to.

It should be noted that – such in Oslo – stricter rules can be put in place locally.

READ ALSO: These are Norway’s Covid-19 guidelines for Christmas shoppers

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Could Christmas in Norway be affected by new Covid-19 measures?

Norway’s government has in the last two days announced tightened rules relating to Covid-19 isolation and face masks. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre sought to reassure the public over plans for the Christmas holidays.

Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th.
Norway's PM Jonas Gahr Støre expects the country's residents to be able to celebrate Christmas normally but cannot rule out new Covid-19 measures before December 24th. Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

The government on Tuesday announced new measures relating to quarantine rules for confirmed Covid-19 cases and face mask guidelines.

The measures, which are being introduced in response to increasing infection numbers, include more stringent isolation rules, face mask recommendations and a push to vaccinate over 65s with booster jabs as soon as possible.

“On one side, we must avoid full hospitals and strain on the health system. On the other side we must live as normally as possible. We must keep finding the right balance in the measures,” Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in a statement.

Tighter quarantine rules for suspected cases with the new Omicron variant were meanwhile launched on Monday. People who test positive for or are believed to be infected with the Omicron variant will need to isolate for longer than others with the virus.


In comments during a briefing to press on Tuesday, Støre sought to reassure the public over plans to spend Christmas with loved ones.

“The measures we have introduced are settings that make it possible to celebrate a good Christmas while keeping in mind what you can do with your loved ones,” the PM said in comments reported by newspaper VG.

“We can plan to be with our families at Christmas,” he added.

Last year saw Christmas in Norway significantly impacted by restrictions on the number of people who could meet and mixing between households.

Such far-reaching restrictions are not expected in 2021. Støre did not however rule out additional measures being introduced before December 24th.

“What we have presented today is based on the knowledge we already have,” he said.

“It is the total restrictions that count. If we are in the same situation (as now) when we get to December 24th, you can celebrate Christmas normally,” Støre said, but noted the virus would be present throughout the winter.

The aim of any measures is to keep the pandemic under control throughout the winter, he added.