Norwegian municipalities hit hard by cost of Covid-19 in 2020

Various restrictions and closures put in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic cost Norwegian municipalities around 14 billion kroner in 2020, according to a report.

Norwegian municipalities hit hard by cost of Covid-19 in 2020
Photo by Theo Eilertsen Photography on Unsplash

The municipal sector also received around 20 billion kroner in increased subsidies and funding from the Norwegian government last year, news wire NTB reports.

More than two thirds of the funds are provided for increased costs related to the pandemic as well as compensation for reduced income.

“Throughout the coronavirus crisis, the government has been clear that we must stand up for the municipalities by compensating for increased expenses and lost revenue. The report shows that we have done just that,” Minister for Local Government Nikolai Astrup said in a statement.

The estimates in the report are based on a survey by KS, the Municipal Sector Organisation, on the expenditure of a selection of municipalities and all counties. In total, the pandemic has cost municipalities 10 billion kroner and county municipalities 4 billion kroner.

READ ALSO: Why Norway’s earnings dropped in 2020 despite steady taxes from individuals

The health and care sector is, unsurprisingly, responsible for around half of the estimated additional expenditure. Increased expenses for salaries, testing, infection tracking, infection control equipment and costs related to isolation and quarantine are the largest contributors to the bill.

“The municipalities have been on the front lines during the pandemic, and many have done a formidable job with testing and infection tracing at the same time as they have provided services to their inhabitants. It has been a demanding year, and I am impressed for all the work they have done,” Astrup said.

In addition to the increased costs of the pandemic, municipalities also lost money as a result of schools and kindergartens in Norway closing last year, as well as a loss of income through sports and culture.

At county level the financial consequences of the pandemic are mainly related to reduced ticket revenues gained from public transport.  

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Norway unlikely to offer fourth Covid vaccine dose to under 45s 

Those under 45 with no underlying conditions probably won’t be offered a fourth Covid vaccine dose this autumn, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) said Friday. 

Norway unlikely to offer fourth Covid vaccine dose to under 45s 

Health authorities are unlikely to offer under 45s a fourth Covid jab this autumn, broadcaster TV2 writes. 

“As it looks now, no more doses will be recommended for healthy people under the age of 45, but we are continuously assessing this based on the knowledge we have about the epidemic and the vaccine,” Preben Aavitsland, Chief Physician at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), told TV2. 

Newswire NTB were informed on Wednesday that health chiefs would make an official recommendation for the coming autumn and winter towards the end of summer. 

In a letter sent to municipalities earlier this month, the NIPH wrote that the most likely outcome was that local authorities would be asked to other a refresher dose to over 65s and those in vulnerable groups.

Aavitsland told TV2 that in the long run, it was possible the oldest would be offered an annual vaccine. However, this would depend on how long the pandemic endured and the spread of new variants, the chief physician, added.