“Today we have finally reached the point at which we can remove many of the anti-infection measures we have lived with this winter,” Støre told a press briefing.
Norway’s high vaccination rate and the milder Omicron variant enabled the country to ease off on restrictions, the prime minister said.
The change in rules will mean bars and restaurants will again be allowed to serve alcohol after 11pm. A rule requiring table service for alcohol to be sold is also scrapped, but licensed business must still operate under anti-infection provisions.
A recommended limit on the number of people who can gather in private homes is meanwhile removed. Under the outgoing rules, no more than 10 people were advised to gather privately. Outdoor and indoor events will not have capacity limits.
Amusement parks, arcades and similar attractions can reopen but with anti-infection provisions in place (such as regular cleaning and sanitisation). Cinemas, theatres, churches and anywhere else that uses fixed seating for guests can now use their full capacity, with distance requirements for seated persons revoked.
The national recommendation for schools and kindergartens to operate at yellow level, meaning reduced class sizes and social distancing, is lifted, while universities and further education are advised that all students can again be physically present at classes without social distancing.
The self-isolation period following a positive Covid-19 test will be reduced to four days, Støre also confirmed at the briefing. Up to now, the isolation period was six days for people without symptoms of the virus.
A requirement to work from home where possible will also be scrapped. Instead, employers will be asked to assess how much home working is appropriate for individual workplaces. The home working requirement had been in place since December.
Travellers to Norway will no longer be required to take a Covid-19 test on arrival in the country. Previously, all persons arriving in Norway were required to take a Covid-19 test regardless of vaccination status.
The changes come into force with near-immediate effect from 11pm on Tuesday.
Some of the current rules are to remain in place, including a mandate on face mask use in stores, on public transport and at other locations when it is not possible to maintain a social distance of one metre.
Nightclubs will be allowed to open but will still be impacted by restrictions. The government said it will keep recommendations against dancing at nightclubs and ask the one-metre social distance to be kept at the establishments.
“Licensed establishments should not conduct activities which naturally promote a distance of less than one metre between guests, for example dancing,” updated guidelines released by the government state.
Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol said at the briefing that the government had gone further than health authorities had recommended in easing restrictions.
“In short, we are going from detailed rules to the meter [social distance, ed.], face mask and common sense,” Kjerkol said.
“We know this will have a price in the form of (increased) infections and sick leave (from work), but the price of restrictions is actually higher,” the minister said.
The remaining restrictions could be lifted as early as February 17th if the situation with the virus develops as expected, the government also said at the briefing. Municipalities will still be allowed to introduce local restrictions if they deem this necessary, however.