Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Thursday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Today in Norway: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday 
Oslo Operahus .Photo by Arvid Malde on Unsplash

Norway takes next step in reopening plan 

Norway has begun the second step of its four-step plan to reopen society and lift Covid-19 restrictions. 

From today, 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. 

Domestic travel will no longer be advised against and schools and kindergartens can return to green level, meaning a return to normal teaching.

You can see the full list of measures here.

The decision to move to step two is based on advice from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

Thousands of public sector employers to strike 

More than 7,000 public sector employees, including teachers and health workers, will go on strike, trade union Unio has announced. 

“Now we are finished with mediation, and we will put 7,000 (members) on strike. It will have consequences, but it is too soon to say what consequences it will have for schools,” Steffen Handal, chief negotiator for Unio, told newspaper VG

Unio announced it would strike following six hours of overtime at mediation talks over wage settlements between municipalities and unions. 

It was initially feared that up to 20,000 public sector employees would strike, but other unions were able to strike a deal that will see public sector employees receive a wage supplement of between 10,000 and 22,000 kroner for employees in the public sector. 

Municipalities selected to receive extra doses will receive fewer doses than planned

24 municipalities earmarked to receive up to 60 percent more Covid-19 vaccines will instead receive 45 percent more vaccines. 

Health Minister Bent Høie has said that the change is primarily due to a calculating error. 

READ MORE: Norway to redistribute Covid-19 vaccine doses to local areas 

“The calculation that the Norwegian Institute of Public Health made turned out to be not entirely correct. That means I had to make a choice to cut the number of extra doses,” the health minister told TV channel TV2.

499 new Covid-19 cases registered in Norway 

On Wednesday, 499 new cases of coronavirus were registered in Norway. This is an increase of 21 cases on the seven-day average of 478. 

In Oslo, 57 new cases of infection were registered. This is a decrease of 11 compared to the seven-day average of 68. 

The R-number or reproduction rate in Norway is currently 1.0. This means that infections are at a steady level in Norway as for every ten people that are infected, they will, on average, only infect another ten people.

Total number of Covid-19 cases. Source: NIPH

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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.