SHARE
COPY LINK

EASTER

Covid-19 in Norway: This is what you can and can’t do over the Easter holidays

Tougher restrictions will be in place in Norway for the duration of the Easter holidays. Here's a rundown of what you can and can't do over the holiday period.

Covid-19 in Norway: This is what you can and can’t do over the Easter holidays
Photo by Olav Tvedt on Unsplash

Why have the restrictions been brought in?

Norway is currently in its third wave of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new restrictions come as the country registers record numbers of new daily infections and hospitals are treating as many Covid-19 inpatients as they did during the peak of the first wave in Spring 2020.

While Covid-19 infection levels haven’t yet reached the numbers that health authorities feared they would, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and the Norwegian Directorate of Health recommended the government introduce new measures for Easter because evidence has shown them that infection increases when people are on holiday.

“It has been shown that the infection spreads when it is holiday time in Norway. We have seen this at Christmas, during the winter holidays, last summer and also during the autumn holidays,” Director at NIPH Camilla Stoltenberg told broadcaster NRK.

Påkseferie, or Easter holiday, in Norway sees many travel to see friends and family, visit ski resorts and stay at their holiday homes and cabins.

What are the measures?

The government announced a combination of restrictions, which are regulated by law, and recommendations, which are not. The new measures are a lot stricter than the previous guidelines for Easter 2021. Here is an overview of the measures.

Travel

Unlike last year there isn’t a ban on cabin trips, however it is recommended that you must only travel to your cabin with your household. Students are allowed to travel to their family home.

If you come from an area with high levels of infection you are recommended not to have any guests at all, or to stay overnight away from their own homes. The exception to this is people living alone and children under 20.

It is also recommended that people avoid all unnecessary travel within Norway over the Easter holidays. Those arriving in Norway from abroad will have to stay at a quarantine hotel unless the journey was essential.

Amusement parks, bingo halls and similar attractions will all be closed over Easter.

“The most important thing at Easter is that we travel as little as possible, and meet as few as possible, to prevent the infection from spreading,” health minister Bent Høie said at a government press conference.

Socialising

The government has set a recommendation of a maximum of two guests to be invited to private homes and people living in high infection regions are asked not to have any guests at all, or to stay overnight away from their own homes

MAPS: Which parts of Norway are Coronavirus free 

Winter sports

Winter sports are a big part of Easter in Norway with many going on trips to the slopes, cross country skiing or ski touring. This will still be the case this year too. Ski lifts will remain open. Up to 20 people can meet outdoors and 2 meters social distancing will have to be observed. 

Hotels, bars, restaurants and cafes

All business in Norway, bar the state-owned wine monopolies, are now prohibited from serving any alcohol.

Bars, restaurants, hotels and cafes are allowed to stay open in places where tighter measures, such as those in place in Oslo, don’t apply. Customers will have to observe a two meter social distancing rule.

The new restrictions are expected to hit the hospitality industry particularly hard.

Stoltenberg told NRK that she understands the hospitality industry are upset at the new measures but that they are necessary.

“These measures affect companies, and they affect the economy, but it is serious now. We have an increase in the number of infected, hospitalised people who are in intensive care. We are dealing with a variant (B117) that is more contagious and more dangerous”, she said.

When will the measures be lifted?

The measures are in place until April 12th where they will then be reviewed.

The government previously planned to reveal its strategy for easing restrictions in March but Health Minister Bent Høie said they would instead be revealed over Easter.

Stoltenberg hopes that the measures can be eased in May, provided infections fall.

“We need to see that the number of new infections decreases, and that it decreases in the areas that are hardest hit, in Oslo and Viken in particular. And we need to see that we manage to maintain testing and preferably we need to see a downturn when it comes to the number that are seriously ill,” she said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19 ALERT

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.

SHOW COMMENTS