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NEW YEAR

What changes about life in Norway in 2021?

The new year will bring about a series of changes for those living in Norway. Here's a roundup of the big ones to look out for.

What changes about life in Norway in 2021?
Will Norway be able to celebrate May 17th more or less normally? Photo: Flags, flags and more flags. Photo: : Jon Olav Nesvold / NTB scanpix

Brexit will happen 

January 1st is the big day when the Brexit transition period comes to an end. This will mean that UK citizens arriving to live work or study in Norway will be treated the same as those from a country outside the EEA/EU. The Norwegian government has a short article on how British citizens will be affected here. And here's a message from The Local's founder and CEO about how we'll be there to help. 

Current coronavirus restrictions may be loosened in January 

Norway's health minister Bent Høie said in mid-December that the current national restrictions would stay in place until “the second half of January”. The restrictions include a ban on private events for more than 20 people, a ban on alcohol sales after midnight, and ten day quarantine on arrival from abroad (seven days if you test negative twice for coronavirus. 

It remains unclear when will the tighter restrictions imposed in November in Oslo and Bergen be lifted. 

An illustration photo showing a quiet Oslo street. Photo: Ranurte on Unsplash
 
 
Vaccinations will continue 

According to Norway's vaccination plan about 70 percent of the 1.3m Norwegian residents classed as being in a risk group should have been fully vaccinated by Easter. 

But Geir Stene-Larsen, the assistant director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, told state broadcaster NRK that he didn't believe that enough people will be vaccinated to begin lifting restrictions until the summer. 

“I think we will need to have vaccinated everyone in the risk groups before we get any special help in keeping the infection rates down, and by that time we will be almost in the summer,” he said, although he said it was possible that the the vaccination of people in risk groups could be completed as early as April. 
 
The big question for Norwegians, as ever, will be whether people will be able to celebrate Norway's National Day on May 17th with the traditional crowds. 
 
Svein Andersen, 67, becomes the first person to get vaccinated against coronavirus in Norway. Photo: Fredrik Hagen / NTB / AFP
 
 
There will be a parliamentary election in September 
 
Norway is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections on September 13th. With the former farmer's party, the Centre Party, in recent months overtaking both the centre-right Conservative Party and the centre-left Labour party in the polls, the outcome is extremely hard to predict. 
 
If the Centre Party can translate its current poll figures into votes, Norway could end the year with a eurosceptic coalition in power. 
 
Could Centre Party leader Trygve Slagsvold Vedum be the next PM? Photo: Audun Braastad / NTB Scanpix / AFP
 
 
New laws 

Right to demand electric car charging point 

People living in flats who have the right to park at their property will from 2021 be able, under law, to demand that the housing association install a charging spot for their electric vehicle, although it is the board of the housing association which decides where to locate it. 
 
New pension account
 
From January 1st, Norway will introduce a new pension scheme for everyone who works in a private company with a defined contribution pension. The scheme is called EPK (Own Pension Account) and means that all pension earnings are gathered in one account.
 
New inheritance law
 
Norway's new inheritance law comes into force on January 1st, increasing the share of inheritance that must go to the deceased closest heirs to 15G, which is about 1.5m kroner. It was previously 1m kroner. The new law allows people to give away property to heirs as a gift, but it is not allowed to give 'gifts' that correspond to more than 10 percent of the estate's value. 
 
Delayed benefits for people who quit jobs
 
If you yourself are to blame for unemployment you must currently wait 12 weeks before you can receive unemployment benefits. From  January 1st, this will be increased to 18 weeks.
 
The same delay will apply if you already receive unemployment benefits and say no to a job offer without a good reason. 
 
New drone rules
 
Even those flying drones recreationally will need to be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority, costing some 180 Norwegian kroner in fees. 
 
VAT on alternative treatment
 
Norway will start to levy value added tax at 25 percent on alternative treatment and cosmetic surgery. 
 

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NEW YEAR

Europe parties ring in New Year despite terror jitters

Millions of people around the world shrugged off terror jitters to ring in 2017 in style.

Europe parties ring in New Year despite terror jitters
Revellers celebrate at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, undeterred by a terror attack on December 19. Photo: Odd Andersen/ AFP
Revellers crammed into major cities across Europe to celebrate New Year with security tightened amid fears large crowds of people could present a target for extremists.
 
Celebrations swung into Europe with the night sky over Moscow's Red Square literally painted red by the fireworks.
 
In Berlin, revellers seemed undeterred by the deadly attack on a Berlin Christmas market on December 19,  as they gathered under a freezing Berlin sky for a series of concerts and a large midnight fireworks display over the Brandenburg Gate. 
 
 
Nearly 500,000 people gathered on Paris's famous Champs-Elysees, where the Arc de Triomphe was lit up with a colourful countdown to 2017 and the word “welcome” in dozens of languages.
 
   
The raucous celebrations drew to an end a year of political shocks, led by Britain's vote to leave the European Union. It has also been a year of celebrity deaths from David Bowie to Prince and Mohammed Ali. 2016 was also a year of bloodshed and misery that has seen the war in Syria, Europe's migrant crisis and numerous terror attacks dominate the headlines.
 
The German capital beefed up security, deploying extra police, some armed with machine guns.     
  
“This year, what's new is that we will place concrete blocks and position heavy armoured vehicles at the entrances” to the zone around Brandenburg Gate, said a police spokesman.
   
In Paris, nearly 100,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers will be deployed across France against the jihadist threat and President Francois Hollande inspected the security measures on the Champs-Elysees.
 
But fireworks returned to the French capital, after muted 2015 celebrations following the massacre of 130 people by jihadists.   
 
 
Brussels also reinstated its fireworks show after last year's was cancelled at the last minute due to a terrorist threat, with large crowds gathering in De Brouckere square. 
 
 
In Stockholm crowds gathered on the north side of Södermalm to watch the fireworks over Djurgården
 
 
In Copenhagen, the main gathering point was central Rådhuspladsen. 
 
 
 
Rome stationed armoured vehicles and greater numbers of security forces around the Coliseum and St Peter's Square, where Pope Francis will celebrate a “Te Deum” hymn of thanksgiving.¨
 
At the Coliseum, thousands set off their own fireworks filling the air with smoke and sparkles. 
 
 
 
 
In Barcelona, hundreds of thousands gathered in the city centre to ring in the New Year. 
 
 
They were greeted with a fantastic fireworks display. 
 
 
   
In Rome, earlier on Saturday, the pontiff held a mass at which he urged people to reflect on the plight of the young as the year drew to a close.
 
   
“We have created a culture that idolises youth… yet at the same time paradoxically we have condemned our young people to have no place in society,” he said.
   
At the stroke of midnight, there will be a “leap second” decreed by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service to allow astronomical time to catch up with atomic clocks that have called the hour since 1967.