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SCHOOLS

Oslo to partially lift local Covid-19 restrictions

Norwegian capital Oslo is to lift some of its long-standing coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday February 3rd.

Oslo to partially lift local Covid-19 restrictions
Schools, kindergartens and upper secondary schools in Oslo will on Wednesday move to the "amber" level. AFP

Schools, kindergartens and upper secondary schools in Oslo will on Wednesday move to the “amber” level of the national traffic light model for safety and distancing protocols at schools.

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen, but a ban on serving alcohol will remain in place.

The city’s mayor, Raymond Johansen, said on Monday that there is now “space to start a gradual and controlled reopening of Oslo”, media including broadcaster NRK reported.

The Norwegian capital has had local restrictions in place for months and was recently put under even tighter restrictions by the central government, due to the detection of a more infectious variant of Covid-19 in the region. A gradual easing of the tighter restrictions was signalled by health minister Bent Høie on Saturday.

READ ALSO: ‘This situation is really demanding for a lot of people’: Oslo residents on living with social lockdown

The updated restrictions, which will take effect from Wednesday February 3rd, are as follows:

  • “Amber” level of the national traffic light model for safety and distancing protocols at schools, kindergartens and upper secondary schools. Universities to remain at ‘red’ level.
  • Children and young people under 20 may participate in organised leisure and sports
  • Libraries allowed to open
  • Shops can open, but malls and department stores must remain closed
  • Bars, cafes and restaurants can reopen, but the ban on serving alcohol will remain in place
  • Organised facilities allowed to operate under more ordinary rules for children up to upper secondary school age [fritidsklubbene in Norwegian, ed.]. Indoor activities for older age groups will remain closed, however.

READ ALSO: Restrictions in Oslo and surrounding areas to gradually ease

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ENVIRONMENT

Online campaign raises money for Freya walrus statue in Norway

An online campaign has raised over $20,000 to build a statue in Norway for Freya, a beloved walrus that was euthanised by officials at the weekend.

Online campaign raises money for Freya walrus statue in Norway

The walrus gained global attention after she was spotted basking in the Oslo fjord, attracting large crowds keen to spot the 600-kilogram
(1,300-pound) marine mammal.

She was put down on Sunday after officials said she was showing signs of stress and feared she was a threat to the public, who did not keep their distance as requested.

On Wednesday, an online campaign had so far raised 210,000 Norwegian krone ($21,600) to build a statue in the young walrus’s honour.

The campaign’s organiser said the statue should serve as a reminder for future generations to protect animals.

“The culling of Freya sends the extremely negative message that Norway, and in particular Oslo, is not able to make room for wild animals,” Erik Holm said on the fundraising website Spleis.no.

“By erecting a statue of the symbol that Freya has become in such a short time, we will remind ourselves (and generations to come) that we cannot and should not kill or erase nature when it is in our path.”

Freya, estimated to be around five years old, had already been sighted in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and chose to spend part of the summer in Norway.

She had made headlines since July 17 when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.

The walrus is a protected species that normally lives in the even more northerly latitudes of the Arctic.

Between long naps in the sun — a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day — Freya had been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and dozing on boats struggling to support her bulk.

Despite repeated appeals, curious onlookers continued to approach the mammal, sometimes with children in tow, to take photographs.

Walruses do not normally behave aggressively towards humans, but they can feel threatened by intruders and attack.

Critics said the decision to put the animal down was rushed and did not take her well-being into account.

Officials said sedating Freya and moving her to a less populated area would be too complex an operation.

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