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

Find out what’s going on in Norway on Friday with The Local’s short roundup of important news.

Pictured are people on a ski tour in Kåfjord.
Read about changes to the national rules, infections measures in schools and new testing rules for travellers to the UK. Pictured are people on a ski tour in Kåfjord. Photo by Hendrik Morkel on Unsplash

Changes to Covid restrictions are coming next week

Health minister Ingvild Kjerkol has said that there will be changes to the infection control measures brought in during mid-December next week.

The current measures, including a national ban on the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, will remain in place until January 14th.

“We make assessments continuously and are not interested in having measures longer than necessary,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

Upper secondary schools to be moved away from red level

The government is working towards moving upper secondary schools away from red level, which means partial homeschooling, among other infection control measures.

“We have commissioned the Directorate of Education, NIPH and the Norwegian Directorate of Health to assess the traffic light model and propose a new and more feasible yellow level for the oldest students. It is a little too early to say what this will result in. My goal is to keep schools and kindergartens open,” education minister Tonje Brenna told newspaper VG.

However, the government has said that it is likely to retain controversial self-isolation rules, which makes teachers and education employees are exempt from having to quarantine when identified as a close contact of somebody who contracts Covid-19.

Travel testing rules change for UK 

New testing rules have come into force, which means those travelling to England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales face a less strict Covid testing regime.

The rules which came into play at 4am on Friday mean fully vaccinated arrivals no longer need to isolate until their results arrive. Additionally, from Sunday, January 9th, arrivals can book a less expensive antigen (lateral flow) test rather than a PCR test for their Day 2 test.

The pre-departure test has also been dropped.

READ MORE: UK government to relax Covid testing rules for arrivals from Europe

7,879 new Covid-19 cases

Over the last 24 hours, 7,879 new positive Covid-19 test samples have been reported, 3,681 more than the same day last week.

Over the last seven days, an average of 5,360 new Covid-19 infections have been registered per day. The same average a week before was 3,335.

As of Thursday, 295 patients in hospitals had Covid-19.

Norway receives 50 million rapid tests

Norway’s municipalities, border crossing and health trusts will each be given their share of 50 million lateral flow tests in the coming days and weeks after self-tests have become somewhat short in supply following a sharp increase of infection in December.

NRK has also reported that pharmacies, which order their tests through a separate mechanism, are also reporting an increased supply of LFT’s following high demand in December.

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

The latest on the electricity crisis and why dangerous weather alerts don't always reach the right people, plus other news from Norway on Monday. 

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

PM to meet parliamentary leaders 

Norwegian Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, will meet with the leaders of the other political parties in his office today to brief them on the electricity situation and explain how the government intends to deal with it. 

Pressure has been mounting on the PM for weeks due to record energy prices throughout the summer. 

Yesterday the PM announced the electricity subsidy scheme would be strengthened a month earlier so that 90 percent of the bill, which costs more than 70 øre per kWh, will be subsidised by the government. 

Tourists very rarely receive weather warnings 

Norway is a hotbed for tourists, with many coming in their droves to experience its stunning scenery. 

However, in the event of dangerous weather conditions, visitors are very rarely notified, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

“It is largely based on people having to follow along (with the situation) themselves,” the emergency manager at Vestland County, Håvard Stensvand, told the broadcaster. 

In the event of a yellow danger warning, there is a limit to how much local authorities can notify people by sending out text message alerts. 

“With the current arrangements, our experiences so far indicate that it is unfortunately not possible to reach everyone with this type of information,” Johan Marius Ly at the Directorate for Social Security and Preparedness (DSB) said. 

As a result, a new system will be put in place. 

Government pledges to increase electricity support sooner and mulls export restrictions.

Increased electricity support will take effect from September rather than October, meaning the government will pay 90 percent of consumers’ bills where they paid more than 70 øre per kWh for energy a month earlier. 

The government has also said it will limit foreign exports when the reservoirs are low to avoid other measures such as rationing. 

On Monday, the government will also decide whether to reconvene parliament early to address the situation. 

Freya the walrus on the move

On Sunday, a walrus that has captured worldwide attention after being spotted in several locations in Oslo this summer was on the move once again. 

The 600-kilogram walrus named Freya by locals was spotted at Vollen Marina in Asker pursuing a duck. 

Both professionals in the Directorate of Fisheries and the police have several times asked people to keep a good distance from the animal to avoid dangerous situations and stress for the animal.