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ERNA SOLBERG

Norway to enter next stage of lifting Covid-19 restrictions next week 

Norway will on May 27th begin step two of its four-step plan to reopen and lift Covid-19 restrictions, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced on Friday.

Norway to enter next stage of lifting Covid-19 restrictions next week 
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. AXEL SCHMIDT / AFP

From next Thursday, people can have up to ten visitors in their homes, alcohol can be served until midnight, and there will be more in-person teaching at schools and universities.

“We see that the infection rates are stable and that hospital admissions are declining. Vaccination is going according to plan. It is, therefore, justifiable to proceed with the reopening of Norway,” Solberg said at a government press conference. 

“I’m very happy today that we can see the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” Solberg added 

The decision for Norway to move to the second step of its reopening plan is based on advice from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH). 

Although national infection numbers have been falling for weeks, there have been various local coronavirus outbreaks across Norway. 

READ MORE: Norway see’s Covid infections fall as R rate rises 

Solberg said that despite restrictions being eased nationally, there may be a need for stricter measures at local level in some areas. 

“Even if there is relief nationally, there may be a need for stricter measures to reduce outbreaks locally,” the PM said. 

“It is important the municipalities are able to assess whether they must continue with stricter measures when we relax restrictions. We will probably see greater differences in the infection control rules in various regions,” Solberg added.

The complete list of measures being introduced are: 

  • Kindergartens and schools can move to green level. Green level means a return to normal teaching (with infection control measures in place), class sizes and scrapping the cohort system. Schools can decide whether they want to return to green level. You can read more about green level here.
  • Alcohol can be served until midnight without the requirement for food to be ordered. 
  • Authorities no longer advise against domestic travel. 
  • Up to ten guests can visit private homes; vaccinated guests do not count towards the number. 
  • Increased testing at universities to allow for more in-person teaching 
  • Up to 20 people over 20 years old can train indoors and up to 30 outdoors for sports, cultural and leisure activities. 
  • Public events and settings with fixed designated seating, such as restaurants, can now host 200 people. 
  • Up to 50 people can gather at indoor public events without fixed allocated seating.
  • At private gatherings that don’t take place in private homes, gardens, and cabins, up to 20 people can meet indoors or 30 outdoors. For example, you can now book a table of 20 at a restaurant. 
  • Fairs and markets will now fall under the same rules as shopping malls, rather than public events. 
  • Professional sport now has its own category in the reopening plan. The PostNord league (third division) football can now resume. 
  • Elite leagues in sports that have been unable to resume will now be able to do so.

The government has also submitted a proposal to parliament to amend the Infection Control Act to allow the introduction of a full corona certificate. 

Currently, there is a preliminary certificate in place that shows immunity and vaccination status on helsenorge.no

The proposal would allow for a more complete certificate to be used. The government is aiming to introduce the full certificate in the first half of June. 

“The government believes that the corona certificate will help facilitate a gradual and controlled reopening of society and contribute to faster opening nationally,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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