The government has delayed the final stage of its exit plan from national Covid measures until mid-August at the earliest, Health Minister Bent Høie said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The decision to delay the final step of reopening was based on advice and assessments made by the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Earlier in July, PM Erna Solberg said that the government was delaying the final step of its reopening strategy until the end of July or early August.
The reason for step four of the government’s exit plan from coronavirus measures is due to uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant, first identified in India.
“The delta variant has become dominant as expected. It is uncertain how this will affect Norway,” Høie said.
“The pandemic is not over. There is a worrying development in several European countries as a result of the Delta variant, also in countries with higher vaccination coverage than in Norway, such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,” Høie added.
Another reason why the government has pushed back the final step of lifting coronavirus measures is to allow schools to return to green level, a return to more or less normal teaching, after the summer holidays.
“We must do what we can so that children and young people can start with a normal school day after the holidays. A further reopening now will increase the risk that more schools will have to open at the yellow or red level and thus affect children and young people,” Høie said.
Høie did announce, however, that some measures would be eased in Norway. From August 16th, children under the age of 18 will be exempt from self-isolating after being exposed to Covid-19.
The exception to this is if a member of their household or close contact such as boyfriend or girlfriend is required to isolate, or if the person in question tests positive for the coronavirus. Until then, the ten-day self-isolation period, seven if a PCR test is taken, would remain in place.
In practice this means pupils at schools will no longer have to isolate if a classmate tests positive.
“This increases the risk of infection, but it is a risk we want to take,” Høie said.
In addition to this, on August 2nd, the rules for organisations and companies holding social gatherings will be relaxed too.
Get-togethers organised by companies for employees will now be classed as public events rather than private events meaning between 400- 1000 people can gather indoors depending on whether there is a seating plan or between 800-2000 participants outside.
You can read more about the rules for public events here.
Children under 18 whose parents are exempt from entry quarantine and aren’t vaccine pass holders will now be exempt from entry restrictions. Children whose parents are vaccine pass holders are already exempt.
From today adults would also be able to participate in grassroots competitively across different municipalities. You can read the complete list of changes here.