Which cities in Norway still have a New Year’s fireworks display planned?

Several cities have cancelled their displays but there are still plenty of places where New Year's fireworks shows are scheduled to go ahead in Norway.

Pictured is a fireworks display.
Displays are still on in several cities this New Year's. Pictured is some fireworks. Photo by Elisha Terada on Unsplash

For many, New Year’s Eve means fireworks and sparklers. Unfortunately, several of Norway’s largest cities have chosen to cancel their public displays in 2021, for several reasons.

The public fireworks display has been cancelled for the second year running in Oslo. While last year the cancellation was due to Covid-19, this year’s event has been scrapped for budgetary reasons.

Fireworks shows have also been axed in Trondheim, Drammen, and Kristiansand. The displays in Trondheim and Drammen have been dropped due to national Covid restrictions, which prohibit more than 100 people from gathering at a public event outdoors.

In northern city Bodø, the municipality will have a display, but without the crowds. Instead, people will be asked to tune in digitally or watch the show from their homes.

Bergen and Stavanger will have displays too. In Stavanger, the public is being encouraged to not gather at launch sites and instead watch them from where they are celebrating the new year.

There will be a display in Tromsø, but the municipality isn’t organising it. Instead, it’s being arranged by private individuals and the business community in the arctic city.

What are the Covid-19 rules this New Year’s Eve?  

Norway currently has recommendations on the number of people allowed to gather. These guidelines are not legally enforceable, but the public is asked to limit events to 10 guests at home or up to 20 on one occasion over the holiday period.

The government introduced a national ban on the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants on December 15th.

In addition, there are limits on the number of people allowed to gather in public, with no more than 100 people permitted to gather outdoors.

The New Year’s sales won’t be too heavily disrupted, although shoppers will need to wear face masks and maintain a social distance. Some shops may opt to enforce capacity limits.

READ MORE: What are Norway’s Covid rules this New Year’s Eve?

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Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

A resurgence of Covid-19 cases in Europe, this time driven by new, fast-spreading Omicron subvariants, is once again threatening to disrupt people's summer plans.

Covid-19: European summer holidays threatened by rise of subvariants

Several Western European nations have recently recorded their highest daily case numbers in months, due in part to Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.

The increase in cases has spurred calls for increased vigilance across a continent that has relaxed most if not all coronavirus restrictions.

The first resurgence came in May in Portugal, where BA.5 propelled a wave that hit almost 30,000 cases a day at the beginning of June. That wave has since started to subside, however.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: German Health Ministry lays out autumn Covid plan

Italy recorded more than 62,700 cases on Tuesday, nearly doubling the number from the previous week, the health ministry said. 

Germany meanwhile reported more than 122,000 cases on Tuesday. 

France recorded over 95,000 cases on Tuesday, its highest daily number since late April, representing a 45-percent increase in just a week.

Austria this Wednesday recorded more than 10,000 for the first time since April.

READ ALSO: Italy’s transport mask rule extended to September as Covid rate rises

Cases have also surged in Britain, where there has been a seven-fold increase in Omicron reinfection, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS blamed the rise on the BA.4 and BA.5 variants, but also said Covid fell to the sixth most common cause of death in May, accounting for 3.3 percent of all deaths in England and Wales.

BA.5 ‘taking over’

Mircea Sofonea, an epidemiologist at the University of Montpellier, said Covid’s European summer wave could be explained by two factors.

READ ALSO: 11,000 new cases: Will Austria reintroduce restrictions as infection numbers rise?

One is declining immunity, because “the protection conferred by an infection or a vaccine dose decreases in time,” he told AFP.

The other came down to the new subvariants BA.4 and particularly BA.5, which are spreading more quickly because they appear to be both more contagious and better able to escape immunity.

Olivier Schwartz, head of the virus and immunity unit at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, said BA.5 was “taking over” because it is 10 percent more contagious than BA.2.

“We are faced with a continuous evolution of the virus, which encounters people who already have antibodies — because they have been previously infected or vaccinated — and then must find a selective advantage to be able to sneak in,” he said.

READ ALSO: Tourists: What to do if you test positive for Covid in France

But are the new subvariants more severe?

“Based on limited data, there is no evidence of BA.4 and BA.5 being associated with increased infection severity compared to the circulating variants BA.1 and BA.2,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said last week.

But rising cases can result in increasing hospitalisations and deaths, the ECDC warned.

Could masks be making a comeback over summer? (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Alain Fischer, who coordinates France’s pandemic vaccine strategy, warned that the country’s hospitalisations had begun to rise, which would likely lead to more intensive care admissions and eventually more deaths.

However, in Germany, virologist Klaus Stohr told the ZDF channel that “nothing dramatic will happen in the intensive care units in hospitals”.

Return of the mask? 

The ECDC called on European countries to “remain vigilant” by maintaining testing and surveillance systems.

“It is expected that additional booster doses will be needed for those groups most at risk of severe disease, in anticipation of future waves,” it added.

Faced with rising cases, last week Italy’s government chose to extend a requirement to wear medical grade FFP2 masks on public transport until September 30.

“I want to continue to recommend protecting yourself by getting a second booster shot,” said Italy’s Health Minister Roberto Speranza, who recently tested positive for Covid.

READ ALSO: Spain to offer fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose to ‘entire population’

Fischer said France had “clearly insufficient vaccination rates” and that a second booster shot was needed.

Germany’s government is waiting on expert advice on June 30 to decide whether to reimpose mandatory mask-wearing rules indoors.

The chairman of the World Medical Association, German doctor Frank Ulrich Montgomery, has recommended a “toolbox” against the Covid wave that includes mask-wearing, vaccination and limiting the number of contacts.