Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s opening remarks at the presentation of the report submitted by the Coronavirus Commission during the press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister on 14 April 2021.
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First and foremost, I would like to thank the Commission for its report and efforts. I would also like to thank the secretariat for its work. This has been demanding work with complicated questions to answer and little time to solve the task.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had great consequences for all parts of Norwegian society. In that regard, this is a very different crisis from ones we have previously experienced.
On 12 March, we introduced the most far-reaching measures Norway has ever had during peacetime. We made decisions under high levels of uncertainty. We put lives and health first and, together, we managed to suppress the virus and gain control over the spread.
It is an important principle of emergency preparedness efforts that all events must be evaluated. All drills must be reviewed afterwards to see what we can learn from it. This is how we can develop our emergency preparedness and strengthen Norway’s security. Both our undertakings and we as a government have a duty to perform such evaluations.
Even though Norway has suffered less than many other countries both economically and in terms of the rate of infection, it is important to evaluate and improve, because we have never previously experienced such an event on such a large scale and of such a long duration.
In April 2020, the Government appointed an independent commission – we did this to get a thorough and complete examination and evaluation of the authorities’ management of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Commission’s mandate was to look at our emergency preparedness before the pandemic and how the crisis has been managed.
What has worked well, and what could have been done better? What can we do differently next time? We must learn from this crisis, which is still ongoing, so that we can be better prepared for the next one.
Since we are still in a pandemic, the Commission has not had the opportunity to evaluate every aspect of the authorities’ management. Consequently, it is the Norwegian Government’s wish that the Commission continue its work until the pandemic is over.
I am happy to announce that nearly all the members of the Commission have agreed to continue in their task. This is important for continuity.
The Coronavirus Commission’s report will now be presented for consultation with a deadline that will make it possible to review the report before summer.
I would also like to ask the Storting for a chance to address the report in the coming weeks.
Once the Commission has submitted its final report, the Norwegian Government will present the Storting with a white paper concerning the follow-up of the Commission’s work.
Once again, I would like to thank the Commission for this important work, work that will form a basis for important discussions moving ahead and for how we can improve our emergency preparedness efforts and crisis management.
I wish I could have presented you with flowers to thank you for your efforts but, since we are in the middle of a pandemic, the flowers will be sent to you and the other members of the Commission in a COVID-friendly way later. At least you know to expect them.
I hereby present the Commission’s Chair, Professor Stener Kvinnsland.