Parliament on Tuesday moved to support a proposal to allow alcohol to be served by businesses in areas with low infection rates.
After the proposal received majority support, the government decided to lift the Covid-19 restriction banning the serving of alcohol by businesses completely, newspaper VG reports.
The ban will be lifted from Friday January 22nd, health minister Bent Høie confirmed.
In a statement, the health ministry said they would follow recommendations from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) to return to the measures that were in place prior to the introduction of the full ban on serving alcohol on January 4th.
That means a ban on serving alcohol will remain in place after midnight, new guests may not be admitted after 10pm and alcohol and must be sold in conjunction with the serving of food.
Høie said in comments reported by NRK that he felt it was too early to lift the alcohol ban, reflecting the scenario in which the government had been forced to act by parliament.
“It is too early to re-open the serving of alcohol nationally. We are still in an uncertain situation. International and domestic experience is bad in this area,” he said.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg said that a planned re-evaluation next week of Norway’s other Covid-19 restrictions will wait, given the lifting of the ban on alcohol serving, VG reports.
“Our priority is health first, and children and youth, and then jobs,” Solberg told the newspaper.
“We felt we must wait to open restaurants because we have opened so much else. In our prioritisation, children and young people were higher, as was the social isolation we created by not allowing guests,” she said.
Earlier this week, the government announced it was easing up some restrictions, with Covid-19 infection rates in Norway stabilising.
These included restrictions on school sports and guests at private homes, but – at the time – no change to the ban on serving alcohol.