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Covid-19 in Norway: Everything you need to know about new restrictions in Oslo and Viken

From Tuesday March 16th tougher anti-covid measures came into place in Oslo and the whole of Viken county affecting some 1.2 million residents. Here is an overview of all the essential information around the new measures.

Covid-19 in Norway: Everything you need to know about new restrictions in Oslo and Viken
Oslo will be under tighter restrictions from Tuesday. Photo: Metro Centric

The restrictions impact the whole of Viken county, which is located in eastern Norway and includes the country’s capital Oslo, as well as Fredrikstad, Asker and Drammen. The county is made up of 51 municipalities in total and is home to 1.2 million people.

Why have the restrictions been brought in?

According to Norway’s Health Minister Bent Høie, 82 percent of the coronavirus infections in the whole of Norway are in Oslo, Viken or Vestfold county. On Tuesday Oslo recorded a record high 367 cases of coronavirus. 

“There is a sharp increase in infection in Viken,” Høie said at a press conference on Monday. “Testing and infection tracking in these municipalities is under great pressure.”

He added that Viken county has seen a rise in the more contagious variant first detected in the UK.

READ MORE: Oslo tightens up anti-Covid measures as restrictions rise

The decision to introduce stricter measures was based on advice from the Norwegian Directorate of Heath and the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH). The majority of municipalities in Viken were in favour of tougher measures, while 13 of the 51 were not. 

“We have never before seen such a high level of recorded cases,” said the capital’s mayor Raymond Johansen. “If the spread of the virus is too high for too long the system collapses and you lose control,” he added.

Although Viken county contains rural municipalities where infection levels are fairly low the health minister said it was important to have the same set of rules across the whole county to reduce mobility and make the rules easier to understand.

The hope is that these measures will help to combat the spread of the virus over the Easter holiday period when many in Norway, travel to their cabins, go on ski vacations and visit family.

What are the measures

The government is introducing Measure Level A, one of its strictest set of measures. Here is an overview of the restrictions under Measurement A.

Work 

People must work from home if they can.

Shops

All shops must close with the exception of: 

  • Grocery stores. 
  • Outlets that sell pet food and other necessities for pets.
  • Pharmacies. 
  • Opticians.
  • State owned alcohol stores (vinmonpolet).
  • One-on-one services such as hairdressers, dermatologists, tattoo artists, etc. 
  • Health care providers such as physiotherapists.
  • Fuel stations.
  • Building merchants.
  • Stores that cater to the agriculture sector.

Restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels. 

  • All restaurants, cafes and bars must close, but takeaway orders are allowed.
  • No alcohol can be sold in all restaurants, cafes, hotels or bars.
  • Restaurants in hotels are allowed to serve food to guests staying at the hotel.

Under measure Level A the following places must also close: 

  • Gyms.
  • Swimming pills, water parks, spas and hotel pools.
  • Religious venues, with the exception of funerals. 
  • Libraries. 
  • Amusement parks, bingo halls, playgrounds, bowling alleys and similar places. 
  • Cinemas, theatres and other entertainment venues. 

Schools, kindergartens, universities and colleges. 

For schools yellow level of measures will be introduced in line with Norway’s traffic light scale on restrictions. Yellow level means that individual municipalities assess the situation themselves and take action. 

On Monday Oslo announced that it was closing secondary schools and children would be taught remotely. Kindergartens will also be closed during the Easter holiday, except for the children of key workers. 

In addition to this the premises at universities and colleges will be closed with teaching being done online. 

Winter sports 

Ski lifts can remain open in Viken; however, all events and organised sports activities are cancelled with the exception for those under the age of 20 in groups smaller than 10 all coming from the same municipality. 

Events 

All events, excluding funerals and burials, are prohibited.

Furthermore, Measure A sees the introduction of further recommendations such as a minimum of two meters for social distancing. People must also wear masks where it is not possible to keep a distance of 1 meter. Children under 12 do not have to wear masks.

The government advises that everyone should avoid gatherings in their own home with exceptions made for necessary home visits for people in their last phase of life, those who live alone can have one visit or visit two others, and children can visit their kindergarten classmates.

People can also still travel to hotels and their cabins, but only, with people from their own household. 

How long will these measures last? 

These measures will be in place until at least April 11th. This means they will last until a week after the Easter vacations in Norway. They will then be reviewed on April 11th. There is however a possibility the measures could be extended after the review. 

Member comments

  1. Allowing tattoo parlours to remain open is ridiculous. It is not essential for people to get a tattoo as it is to feed themselves or their pets.

    And I love the idea of people not being allowed swimming pills (typing mistake deliberate)!

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OSLO

Oslo shooting suspect remanded in custody for four weeks

The suspect behind a weekend shooting in Oslo that left two dead and 21 wounded was remanded in custody for four weeks on Monday.

Oslo shooting suspect remanded in custody for four weeks

Zaniar Matapour will have no contact with the outside world until July 25, Oslo District Court ruled. The 43-year-old is accused of killing two men and wounding 21 other people when he opened fire near a gay bar in central Oslo in the early hours of Saturday morning, amid celebrations linked to the city’s Pride festival.

Norway’s domestic intelligence service has described the attack as “an act of Islamist terrorism” and said Matapour had “difficulties with his mental health.” Norwegian police said they were still investigating Matapour’s motive.

He has been charged with “terrorist acts”, murder and attempted murder, but has so far refused to be interrogated by police. According to his lawyer, he fears investigators will manipulate video recordings of his questioning.

Matapour, a Norwegian of Iranian origin, will undergo a preliminary psychiatric evaluation to help determine the state of his mental health and whether he can be held legally responsible for his actions.

He had been known to Norway’s PST intelligence service since 2015, with concerns about his radicalisation and membership of “an extremist Islamist network”.

READ ALSO: Norway pays tribute to victims of Oslo shooting

Police said they were examining several possible theories, including an attack motivated by ideology, unstable mental health, a hate crime against the LGBTQ community, or a combination of factors.

The PST said it did not pick up on any “violent intent” when its services interviewed him last month.

Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said there would be a review into the police and PST’s handling of the case.

Nordic ministers visited the site of the attack on Monday, saying in a joint statement that they “stand together with the LGBTI community and against all forms of violence”.

Oslo’s Pride parade, which had been scheduled to take place for the first time in three years due to the Covid pandemic, has been postponed indefinitely.

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