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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 is Holmenkollen in Oslo.
Find out what's going on in Norway with today's roundup of important news. Pictured is Holmenkollen in Oslo. Photo by Michael Ankes on Unsplash

Tax authorities admit giving politicians wrong advice on commuter housing 

The Prime Ministers office allowed politicians to avoid being taxed on commuter homes when renting out their own property due to incorrect guidance from the Norwegian Tax Administration. 

The tax authority has apologised for issuing the incorrect guidance and has insisted that politicians who rent out their own homes while receiving commuter housing must be taxed on the commuter home. 

“The Tax Administration’s guidance has, on the whole, been clear, but we see that in our letter to SMK (the PM’s office) in November 2020, we, unfortunately, gave incorrect guidance on the question of whether a commuter can rent out parts of his own housing unit at home and at the same time get tax-free commuter housing,” Lene Marie Ringså told regional newspaper Adressavisen

Politicians use of the commuter housing scheme has been under immense scrutiny since September over claims that MP’s have grossly misused the scheme. 

Oslo named the costliest city to rent

Oslo is the most expensive city in Norway to rent a 2-bedroom property in Oslo, according to Statistics Norway’s rental market survey for 2021

A two-bedroom property in Oslo and Bærum cots on average 12,310 in rent per month. This is 29 percent higher than the national average price for a property of the same size- 

Bergen and Trondheim, the average price for a 2-room home was NOK 9,510 and NOK 9,780 in 2021, respectively.

There were significant differences not just between cities but also between parts of each city. For example, a two-room dwelling in Frogner, Ullern, Sentrum and St. Hanshaugen would be around 1,500 kroner a month more expensive in rent than a place in Søndre Nordstrand, Grorud, Stovner and Alna. 

Kristiansand and Stavanger were the cheapest cities to rent in Norway. 

The Crown Prince’s family to participate in video game Christmas event

Norway’s royals have agreed to be avatars during a Christmas celebration in the computer game Minecraft. 

It will be the second time that the Crown Prince has appeared as an avatar during a celebration event. They participated in a May 17th celebration, which 37,000 people attended last year. 

“During the celebration on Christmas Eve, the Crown Prince’s family will be represented in the game with Minecraft avatars. During the day, they will give a speech, welcome, and wish everyone who has a Merry Christmas,” The organisers wrote in a press release. 

The Crown Prince’s speech was written in advance and will be delivered via the in-game chat function.

4,290 new Covid-19 cases in Norway. 

On Wednesday, 4,920 new Covid-19 cases were registered in Norway. That is 1,451 infections fewer than the same day a week before. In addition, 316 patients were hospitalised with Covid-19, 21 fewer than the day before. 

Total number of Covid-19 cases in Norway.
Pictured is the total number of weekly Covid-19 cases in Norway 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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