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NORWAY

Norway to use ‘coronavirus certificates’ in reopening plan

Prime Minister Erna Solberg says that certificates will be issued to people who have either received a Covid-19 vaccine or have immunity as part of the Norway's four step plan to lift coronavirus restrictions.

Norway to use 'coronavirus certificates' in reopening plan
(Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The PM confirmed that proof of vaccination will be used in Norway in a statement given in parliament on Wednesday.

“We must consider how such a certificate can best be used nationally in connection with reopening the country. A corona certificate opens up opportunities, but at the same time offers challenges and dilemmas. The government’s ambition is to land a solution for such a certificate within reasonable time,” said the prime minister in a statement to parliament. 

The head of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), Camilla Stoltenberg, has said that she backs the use of Corona certificates or vaccine passports.

“We have not made any final decision on it, but we are positive (regarding) the use of vaccine certificates,” she told national broadcaster NRK.

She also added that she understands that vaccine passports are controversial for some.

“Some will have been vaccinated, and others will not. It is a question of justice and it is a question of what one can allow in private contexts and what one can allow for in public contexts,” she said.

The EU is already working on a model for vaccine passports and Norway has said that it will follow the EU’s decisions on the matter.

READ ALSO: Could ‘health passports’ kickstart travel around Europe?

Stoltenberg said that she thinks the NIPH and Norwegian Directorate of Health will soon be commissioned to research the use of vaccine passports.

“We believe that vaccine certificates probably have their place, and that it should definitely be looked at how they can be used in a good way. But it is difficult. It is. A question of what kind of injustice it also could have,” the health chief said.

Last week Minister of Health Bent Høie said that the government is working with EU on the development of a vaccine certificate. The certificate would be made of a combination of vaccine status and test status.

“We are looking at the possibility of combining simple digital solutions to see if people have been vaccinated, and possibly tested. It opens up the possibility of travelling in Europe. It can be used nationally, with a hope of keeping it as open as possible,” Høie said.

Th state secretary with the Ministry of Health, Saliba Andreas Korkunc, said that Norway already has a form of vaccination card, which can be accessed on the Helsenorge website. Authorities are now working to further develop the card into a full certificate that follows international recommendations.

“We are now working to clarify in which situations we can use a corona certificate. There are many considerations that must be taken into account in this assessment, both ethical, scientific and legal. Before concluding, there is a need for more knowledge about the effect the vaccines have on the spread of infection and the effect against new virus variants,” said Korkunc.

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OSLO

EXPLAINED: What Oslo’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions means for you

Most, but not all, of the Norwegian capital's local Covid restrictions have been lifted to fall in line with national coronavirus rules, with new limits on guests at home and new guidance on face masks. Here’s a rundown of what the latest restrictions mean for you.

EXPLAINED: What Oslo's easing of Covid-19 restrictions means for you
Oslo's skyline. Photo by Oscar Daniel Rangel on Unsplash

Covid-19 measures in Oslo have been relaxed, with the majority of local restrictions being replaced with the looser national rules.

The new rules are a mix of steps three and four of the city’s five-step reopening plan and were introduced after the lowest infection numbers since last autumn were recorded in Oslo last week. 

Last week, 239 coronavirus infections were registered in the Norwegian capital. 

“The gradual, controlled opening of Oslo has been a success. Many of the rules that the people of Oslo have been expected to live with are now being removed, and we will essentially live with the same corona rules as people elsewhere in Norway,” Oslo’s Executive Mayor Raymond Johansen said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Not all local restrictions have been lifted however, meaning there are a mix of local and national rules in place. 

Below we’ll take a look at how the measures will affect everyday life in Oslo. 

At home 

The significant change here is that the ban on having more than ten people gathered at home has been lifted completely. Instead, this will be replaced with the national recommendation not to have more than guests. 

So while it will not be recommended to have more than ten guests, it’s not an enforceable rule anymore. 

READ MORE: What happens if you get caught breaking the Covid-19 rules in Norway

Shopping 

The local rules for shopping malls and stores have been tweaked too. There will no longer be any rule that makes face masks mandatory in shops. In addition to this, the official social distancing measure has been halved, to one metre, and the limit on the number of people allowed in shops has been scrapped. 

However, it’s worth noting that some shops may wish to keep some infection control measures in place if they feel it helps keep staff and shoppers safe, so it may be worth bringing a mask along on your next trip to the shops just in case.

Face masks  

The rule on mandatory face masks in public has also been given the axe, with two exceptions. 

You will still need one if you are taking public transport or taking a taxi. 

Masks will no longer be needed in shops, gyms, museums and galleries, indoor swimming pools, spa facilities and hotel facilities such as pools and dining areas. 

Although, some places may still wish to continue with a mask policy, so always remember to have one handy to be sure. 

Hospitality 

At indoor public places, such as restaurants, 50 people are allowed in venues without fixed assigned seats and 200 people at events with set, assigned seats.

Outdoors, 200 people can gather in cohorts of three, meaning a potential venue of 600 for places with the space and capacity and where there is fixed designated seating.

Soon, when the government changes its rules for events, up to 5,000 people will be able to gather when there is a seating plan in place, provided venues aren’t operating above 50 percent capacity.  

Up to 20 people can book a table at a restaurant or bar when indoors and 30 people outdoors. 

Alcohol will now be able to be served until midnight rather than 10 pm, and this rule will stay in place until July 4th. The cut-off point will remain in place even if national rules change and allow alcohol to be served later. 

Sports, leisure and entertainment 

Bingo halls, bowling alleys, arcades, playgrounds can now reopen.

Oslo’s numbers cap on the people allowed in gyms, museums, galleries, and indoor pools has been lifted. 

Now, 20 people can work out, go for a swim, or take in some art indoors, and up to 30 can do so outdoors. 

Schools 

Restrictions for schools and kindergartens haven’t changed, however. 

This means that schools and kindergartens in Oslo will remain at yellow level. 

Yellow level means that full class sizes are allowed, but mixing between classes must be kept to a minimum. Yellow level also means increased cleaning and hygiene measures are also in place. 

You can read more about yellow level here

Adult education and university are at red level, which means digital learning where possible and minimal contact between students and teachers. 

You can read more on red level here

Work

People are still required to work from home where possible until July 4th. 

Executive mayor Johansen has previously said the home office would be one of the last pandemic measures to go, meaning it could be here for a while longer. 

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