The Government is introducing new targeted measures for a time-limited period in order to safeguard life and health and to prevent Norway from ending up in the same situation as many other European countries.
Norway has now registered the highest number of hospitalised patients with COVID-19 since May.
‘We are facing the most serious infection situation since March. If we all make a major effort to quash the spread now, there is a much greater chance we will be able to enjoy our normal Christmas celebrations together with our extended families,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
The Prime Minister stressed that the actions of each and every one of us in the weeks ahead will be crucial in determining how the COVID-19 situation develops.
‘Unfortunately, we must expect to see more hospitalisations due to coronavirus in the time to come, and more people will become critically ill. We have to introduce new measures to reverse this trend,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.
In August, there were 300 new confirmed cases per week. In September, this number rose to 700 per week. In October, it has climbed again to 900 new cases per week. And the number has risen even more over the past week. Cases among the elderly are also increasing.
‘The municipalities have refined their contingency measures and demonstrated that they can deal with local outbreaks. The key to stopping the spread of infection lies in implementing sound, targeted actions. The municipalities will now have a wider array of tools to use,’ said Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.
In line with new knowledge about the spread of infection among young children, it is not necessary to introduce similarly strict measures for this age group.
‘We are tightening the restrictions in a number of areas in order to reduce the level of infection in society overall. This will make it easier to keep children’s day care centres and schools open, which is an important priority for the Government,’ said Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby.
All the measures will remain in effect until early December.
The following national measures will come into effect at midnight on Tuesday 27 October:
- The maximum number of guests at social gatherings in private homes, gardens or cottages should not exceed five, in addition to the household members. If all the guests come from the same household, more than five guests are permitted. This means that two families with many children can still meet.
- The restriction limiting social gatherings to five guests does not apply to day care centre or primary school cohorts. Children who are in the same cohort at a day care centre or primary school are exempted from the requirement to maintain social distancing at events.
- In general, members of the public are advised to limit their social interaction to fewer people and to shorter periods of time, and to reduce the overall number of people they meet in the course of a week.
- The number of participants attending private events held in public places or in leased or borrowed venues may not exceed a maximum of 50.
- The current maximum of 600 attendees at outdoor events is limited to events where all attendees are seated in fixed seats.
- The Government has proposed a number of measures to make it easier for municipalities to monitor compliance with the rules that apply to events, establishments serving food and drink, and employees
Updated 27.10.2020: The amendments to the regulations enter into force at midnight on Tuesday 27 October, and have been published in their entirety on the Lovdata website (Norwegian only).
(Updated on 28 October to provide further clarification)
Alongside infection spread through private gatherings, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases as a result of increased labour immigration. This is partly due to the fact that some people have not been following the current rules. In addition, the serious infection situation in Europe means that there is a greater risk of imported infection in connection with the exemption from the duty of quarantine that has applied to foreign workers. That is why the Government is now tightening the rules for labour immigration:
- Foreign workers who have been in an area where the level of infection is particularly high during the 10-day period before their arrival in Norway will no longer be able to be exempted from the duty of quarantine during work hours on the basis of undergoing a test for COVID-19 once every three days, see section 6c of the COVID-19 regulations. The general requirement to go into quarantine on entry to Norway will therefore apply in principle to all workers arriving from these areas. An area is defined as having a particularly high level of infection based on the following criteria:
- The necessary data are not available or the number of people tested per 100 000 is 300 or fewer, or
- More than 300 per 100 000 people have been tested and
- the number of new cases is more than 150 per 100 000 during the past 14 days, or
- the number of new cases is 50 or more per 100 000 during the past 14 days and 4 % or more of those tested test positive.
This change will come into effect at midnight on Friday 30 October. It will not have retroactive effect. A list of the countries and regions in the EEA and Switzerland to which the exemption set out in section 6c of the COVID-19 regulations does not apply can be found on the Lovdata website (in Norwegian only).
Local measures that municipalities with a high infection level should consider implementing
In the event of local outbreaks, the municipalities, in consultation with the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, should assess the need to introduce restrictions that go further than the national measures or specific local measures based on the Government circular. The circular will be updated and the local measures proposed will be strengthened as follows:
- Residents should limit their social interaction to contact with maximum 10 people in the course of a week, not including members of their households and day care centre and primary school cohorts.
- Use of face masks should be made mandatory on public transport to/from/within the region.
- Use of face masks should be made mandatory indoors in public places (shops, shopping centres) where it is not possible to maintain a distance of at least one metre between people.
- Use of face masks should be made mandatory indoors in establishments serving food and drink for all employees and guests in all situations in which the guests are not seated at a table.
- Establishments should be required to stop letting in new guests after 22:00.
- The maximum number of participants allowed at indoor events without fixed seats should be set to 20 (reduced from 200).
- All employees whose tasks do not require their physical presence at their workplace should be required to work from home for all or part of the working week.
Educational institutions should be encouraged to provide online remote teaching for students when this is practicable.