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TODAY IN NORWAY

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. 

Pictured are snowy fields near Trondheim, central Norway
Read about new measures that are effective today, a drop in confidence regarding the handling of the pandemic and why electricity prices might make food more expensive. Pictured is snowy fields near Trondheim, central Norway. Photo by Priscila Derlam on Unsplash

New Covid measures take effect

New Covid rules that the government announced on Tuesday take effect today. The new measures see the reintroduction of social distancing and face masks. 

Additionally, the public is being advised to have a maximum of 10 guests, although the limit can be double once over the Christmas holidays. 

Hospitality and one-on-one services will also be required to register guests’ contact info, provided consent is given. Table service and the sale of alcohol ending at midnight will also return. 

READ MORE: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas?

The current level of confidence in the handling of the pandemic is the lowest recorded 

The current level of confidence in the health authorities’ handling of the pandemic is at the lowest level since before Norway entered into lockdown in March 2020. 

Despite a drop in confidence, overall trust remains relatively high, with 67 percent saying they have a high degree of faith in health authorities. Data collection firm Respons Analysis carried out the survey on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate of Health. 

Bjørn Guldvog, director of health at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, said that he understood why confidence may have taken a hit. 

“There can probably be many reasons for that, but I understand that,” he told public broadcaster NRK

He said the reasons for the declining faith were twofold. 

“What we all hoped, that this winter would be easier, did not materialize. It will be another difficult season. The second is that there is a greater uncertainty now. This means that people will point to the authorities and say that you have a job to do to create greater security for all of us,” he explained. 

High electricity prices could lead to more expensive food

The Farmers Association has said that grocery stores will have to raise prices to prevent producers from being heavily impacted by soaring energy prices. 

“The food chains must increase prices,” Bjørn Gimming, head of the Farmers Association, told public broadcaster NRK. 

Due to rising energy prices, growing vegetables in greenhouses has become much more expensive for farmers. 

“I am disappointed that grocery chains are not willing to ask Norwegian consumers if they want Norwegian production and if they are willing to pay the extra it costs,” Gimming said. 

“The price of the food in the store must reflect the production cost. When costs rise, we see two possibilities: either to reduce Norwegian production or to raise the cost further in the market. There is no other alternative,” Gimming added. 

5,259 new Covid-19 cases 

Over the last 24 hours, 5,259 new Covid-19 cases were registered in Norway. This, for the second day running, is the highest number of coronavirus cases recorded throughout the pandemic. This is also 1,479 infections more than the same day last week. 

Over the last seven days, an average of 4,055 positive test samples have been returned per day. 

Oslo also saw the highest number of daily cases since the pandemic began for the second consecutive day. There, 1,137 cases were registered. 

Total number of weekly Covid-19 cases in Norway.
Pictured are the total number of weekly Covid-19 cases throughout the pandemic. Source: Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

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TODAY IN NORWAY

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

A proposed change to blood donation rules, parliament demanding an end to passport waiting times and the Bergen International Festival kicking off are among the main stories from Norway. 

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

Norway to look at change to blood donation rules

The Ministry of Health wants the Norwegian Directorate of Health to consider changes to the blood donation rules for gay men. 

Current regulations mean that gay men have to wait 12 months since they were last sexually active to donate blood. The same rules do not apply to heterosexual couples. 

“Blood donors make an invaluable contribution to society and to other people. It is important to facilitate that those who can and want to donate blood can do so in a safe way. This means that we must have regulations that are updated on professional knowledge about the risk of who can donate blood,” Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said. 

Parliament demands an end to passport waiting times

A majority in parliament’s Justice Committee supported a proposal to introduce immediate measures to ease lengthy passport waiting times ahead of the summer holidays, NRK writes

The parties in government do not currently support the proposal but are in the minority. The measures will be voted on in parliament on June 2nd. 

So far, the government has extended passport office opening hours and reopened bureaus that were closed under the previous government. 

Norway’s Justice Minister has said that the proposals wouldn’t ease the backlog before the summer as the main issue is suppliers lack of the raw materials used to make the travel documents. 

“This proposal has no bearing on the prospect of delivering more passports before the summer. The government implemented these measures almost three months ago. But, the main problem is that the supplier lacks the components for production. We have extended the opening hours and increased staffing, but this is not where the problem lies now,” Emilie Enger Mehl, Minister of Justice, told NRK. 

READ ALSO: Norwegian police urge travellers not to book holidays without a valid passport

Bergen International Festival starts

Bergen’s annual cultural and music festival commences today. It is the largest festival in the Nordic countries of its type and will run for the next 14 days across the city. 

This afternoon, there will be an opening ceremony for the festival at Torgallmenningen Square. Queen Sonja and the Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will be in attendence. 

First-quarter losses for budget airline

Budget airline Flyr lost 212 million kroner during the first quarter of 2022, despite passenger revenues of 78 million. 

Despite what the airline described as a challenging market, it believes the future looks promising as summer approaches. Flyr has reported a large number of bookings and has ordered new aircraft. 

Over the last year, the airline lost 419 million kroner. 

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