Norwegian Government strengthens emergency preparedness capacity

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The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the nature and level of the risks facing Norwegian society. The Government is therefore strengthening Norway’s emergency preparedness capacity in order to respond to the current situation.

‘Given the current, extraordinary situation, we are now taking steps to strengthen our emergency preparedness capacity to ensure that the police and other key actors can fulfil their vital public functions,’ said Minister of Justice and Public Security Monica Mæland.

The police are a crucial part of Norway’s emergency services, and in the time ahead, the police will play an important role in enforcing measures to prevent the spread of infection. An allocation of NOK 232 million has now been provided for the recruitment of up to 400 people to undertake active service with the police. The people recruited will have completed their police training, but are not currently working in the police. They will be employed for a period of six months, with the possibility of an extension to up to a year in total.

Fast-track security clearance of personnel is becoming increasingly necessary because of the need for more people with police training and because many employees in other organisations that fulfil critical public functions are either in quarantine or on sick leave. In order to address this situation, the Government is providing an additional allocation of NOK 7 million to the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority.    

‘We have seen that criminals and others are trying to exploit the COVID-19 crisis, for example to scam and defraud people. The Government is allocating NOK 5 million to the Norwegian National Security Authority (NSM) to strengthen the warning system for digital infrastructure by purchasing more sensors for use in critical sectors and organisations. Now that most of us are working from home, it is important for both companies and employees to be more vigilant with regard to cyber security,’ Ms Mæland said.

Throughout the country, NGOs are assisting the health service and the municipal authorities with tasks relating to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, NGOs are trying to maintain their ordinary activities, at a time when their income is dwindling. The Government has therefore proposed an increase in funding of NOK 10 million to support the work of NGOs.

Svalbard and Longyearbyen are being severely affected by the current crisis. The Government is following the situation closely, and the Ministry of Justice and Public Security is maintaining close contact with the Governor of Svalbard and Longyearbyen Local Administration. On Friday 20 March, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security announced that it was working on a time-limited grant scheme for foreign workers in Longyearbyen who have been temporarily laid off but who are not covered by Norway’s social security and benefit schemes.

NOK 7 million is now being allocated to establish a temporary grant scheme of this kind. The scheme will be based on the rates for financial assistance. It will be administered by Longyearbyen Local Administration and will only last until 20 June 2020. The scheme is also part of the follow-up to the request made by the Storting on 19 March for the Government to develop a time-limited crisis package for Svalbard to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Svalbard and Longyearbyen.

‘In addition to these measures, a number of ministries are drawing up regulations under the new Corona Act. We will provide information about these as they are adopted and enter into force,’ Ms Mæland said.