Norway’s last remaining national coronavirus measures, including social distancing, would potentially be dropped at the end of September, Health Minister Bent Høie declared on Tuesday.
The end of September has been earmarked as the date to scrap all remaining domestic Covid measures because this is roughly around the time when it is expected everyone over the age of 18 in Norway will have been offered or received their second vaccine dose.
“As it stands now, everyone should have received two doses at the end of September. Then it will be possible to live normally, without the one-metre rule and other domestic restrictions, but where we must have increased preparedness in our society for new threatening virus variants, and where we must be able to quickly introduce measures, trace the infection and stop the spread,” Bent Høie told newspaper VG.
The health minister added that vaccine levels would help keep hospitalisations low, even if infections increase.
“Vaccination is most important. Although the infection has increased sharply in recent weeks, we have not come up with new national measures precisely because the vaccination and the burden on the health service now mean more than the development of infection,” the health minister said.
Norway had previously delayed the final stage of its four-step strategy to lift all remaining measures over fears of the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India, and rising infection rates.
However, due to the roles vaccines play in preventing severe illness, the rising infection rates have been less serious than they would have been last year, Høie said.
“Had we seen these infection rates we see now, a year ago, I would have had a press conference a long time ago and introduced strict restrictions,” he said.
Høie did not say what this would mean for Norway’s Covid travel rules and restrictions though.