Norway’s plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions: What can we expect?

Norway’s plan to lift Covid-19 restrictions: What can we expect?
Photo: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP
Prime Minister Erna Solberg will on Wednesday present a reopening plan for Norway to parliament before briefing the nation at a press conference.

When will Norway reopen?

Director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, Bjørn Guldvog, has told newspaper VG that authorities hope to start the first stage of the reopening in May.

“We hope that we will be able to start the first step (of reopening) in the second half of May. It depends on what infection situation we are in and that we have vaccinated those we have planned to vaccinate,” said Guldvog.

Solberg has previously has said that she is hoping to reopen most of society by September.

“I hope we will be able to open up many parts of society by September, but we must have control of infections,” she told broadcaster TV2.

How will it affect current measures?

It is unlikely that any of the current national measures will be lifted following the announcement.

On Sunday Health Minister, Bent Høie announced that national measures would be extended, by two days, until April 14th

“We will be content to continue the national measures until April 14th. This is because we now need to get more knowledge and data about how the infection development has been through Easter,” Høie told national broadcaster NRK.

The health minister also said it was too early to say if national measures would be extended even further as they need more data on how infection has spread over the Easter holidays.

READ MORE: Coronavirus cases ‘must be below 200 per day’ before Norway can reopen

Høie emphasised that while it was important for people to have a road map, nothing in the forthcoming plan will be set in stone.

“Having that type of plan is important to create some viability, but it is the infection situation and the development in the vaccination programme that will determine how we can implement our plans,” he said.

Who will be given priority?

Authorities have previously said that children, young people and jobs will be given quite high priority when lifting measures.

“We must expect the first relief to come in these areas”, said Guldvog.

What factors will affect reopening?

“It will first and foremost depend on the proportion who have been vaccinated, it gives a picture of how many people are at risk of getting serious illness,” said Guldvog.

Norway currently plans to have offered everyone over the age of 18 a vaccine dose by mid-July.

The emergence of new variants can also affect the reopening plan. Over 80 percent of all coronavirus cases in Norway are now the more contagious B117 variant, which originated in the United Kingdom.

“We do not know if there will be new variants and how serious they will be,” said the health director.

Espen Nakstad, deputy director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, has also said that the country should be recording less than 200 daily coronavirus cases before restrictions should be lifted.

“We need well under 200 daily cases of infection to be able to start thinking about reopening at all,” he told news agency NTB.

Even slightly higher infection rates would not be sufficient to prevent a new spike on reopening, according to the deputy director of the national health directorate.

“If it is the case that we barely get down to 300-400 cases of infection daily and start to remove a lot of the national measures, it is like believing in Santa Claus that it will go well without numbers rising again. It will not happen so we have to go far down to be sure of it, unfortunately,” the health official told VG.


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