The government unveils the first step of its reopening plan

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Following advice from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the government is implementing the first step of its reopening plan at 12 am on Friday 16 April. Some restrictions will also be eased for events for children and adolescents under the age of 20, and within elite sports. Municipalities with a high rate of infection must consider implementing local measures before Friday.

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The first step of the government's reopening plan is to reverse the national measures that were introduced before Easter.

‘Thanks to people having been careful and our having worked together to prevent the infection rate from rising at Easter, we can implement the first step of the reopening plan already on Friday’, says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

The easing of the national measures will not affect the parts of Eastern Norway with regional measures imposed by the government or municipalities with strict local regulations, such as Oslo and Steinkjer.

‘Even though some of the national measures will be eased on Friday, they are still strict. Examples of this are the ban on serving alcohol after 10 pm and the requirement that food be served, and we recommend that events gathering people from several municipalities be postponed or cancelled’, says Ms Solberg.

All municipalities must maintain good emergency preparedness, also those with a low rate of infection. Municipalities and areas with a high rate of infection must consider introducing strict infection control measures locally, based on the local infection situation. The chief municipal medical officer can impose emergency measures if necessary, prior to political review by the municipality.

To allow the municipalities time to assess their own, stricter measures, the changes to the national measures will first come into effect at 12 am on Friday 16 April.

Local decisions regarding the level of measures at schools and kindergartens
The infection situation varies greatly from place to place and between different parts of the country. The government therefore believes that decisions regarding the level of measures at schools and kindergartens should still be made locally.

‘Kindergartens and schools should not be closed if this can be avoided. However, municipalities may consider switching to fully digital teaching at schools or close kindergartens for short periods of time in order to gain an overview of the situation and have an opportunity to test those who need testing. This is also an option if many people have been put into quarantine’, says Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby.

Sports and cultural events for children and adolescents under the age of 20
‘We are currently making changes so that sports and cultural events for children and adolescents can have up to 50 participants. This is good news for a great number of children and adolescents who participate in other leisure activities than sports, for example marching bands, choirs, or drama. However, the participants must belong to the same municipality’, says Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.

Up to 50 people can be gathered at these events, even if the attendees do not sit in designated seating. The general seating restrictions apply to people in designated seating.

Sports and cultural events for adults
Following a recommendation from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, outdoor practice matches in the top two levels of the Norwegian football league for women and men are allowed. The practice matches must involve as little geographical mobility as possible and are contingent on compliance with the infection control protocol of the Football Association of Norway.

Practice matches are also allowed in the top two levels of the football league for women and men in municipalities with regional measures at levels A and B. In these municipalities, only players, support apparatuses and referees may attend matches.

Based on experiences from practice matches and an updated assessment of the infection situation, the government will make a final decision in the week of 3–7 May regarding whether to allow elite series matches in the top two levels of the football league for women and men.

In municipalities with regional measures at level A, organised training for elite athletes will also be permitted. This will enter into force immediately.

Recommendation to avoid domestic travel
Most of the infections in Norway are linked to the regions of Oslo and Viken. This means that there is still a need for national measures that reduce the risk of spreading infection to areas with little or no infection.

‘The recommendation is to continue to avoid unnecessary domestic travel. This is particularly important to and from areas with a high rate of infection’, says Minister of Children and Families Kjell Ingolf Ropstad.

Ramadan and celebration of id
‘Ramadan starts today. This is a holiday that is important to very many people in Norway, and which normally gathers people in religious community, breaking the fast, and celebrating id.
 
I would therefore like to remind people that social gatherings increase the risk of spreading infection, and that all people must restrict the number of people we have contact with. I know that this is something that religious communities throughout Norway take seriously. I would also like to remind people that gathering in a mosque is considered an event, and such gatherings can only have a few people in attendance.

There may be local measures which are even stricter, and all people must familiarise themselves with the rules and recommendations that apply where they live. This also applies to visits to private homes. We want all people to have as good and safe a Ramadan as possible’, states Mr Ropstad.

During Ramadan, fasting Muslims cannot eat or drink while the sun is up. This year many people have asked mosques and organisations in Norway whether they can take the coronavirus vaccine while they are fasting. The Muslim Dialogue Network and the Islamic Council Norway have stated that people may take the vaccine while fasting, and that this does not mean they have broken their fast.

Assessment of step 2
Data, not dates, will determine when we can go from one step to the next. In general, three weeks will need to elapse between each step.

‘An overall assessment will be conducted based on three checkpoints which determine when we can proceed to step 2 of the reopening plan: the rate of infection and the disease burden, the capacity of the health services and the status of the vaccination programme. We will consider whether conditions are present that allow us to implement step 2 of the reopening plan in May. We will open Norway step by step and in a controlled fashion’, says Ms Solberg.

These are the national measures that apply effective 16 April:

National recommendations
Keep a distance of 1 metre. Keep your hands clean. Stay home if you are ill.

Social contact

  • Everyone should limit social contact.

  • People are encouraged to meet others outdoors and to have a maximum of five guests. If all of the guests come from the same household, more guests are permitted, but it must be possible to keep a distance (new).

  • Children in kindergartens and primary school may receive a visit from other children in their cohort. In addition to visits from other children from their kindergarten or primary school cohort, children and adolescents may receive a visit from one or two regular friends or go visit these regular friends.

Travel

  • International travel is not advised. Strictly necessary travel is permitted.

  • Avoid unnecessary domestic travel. This is particularly important to and from areas with a high rate of infection.

  • People may travel to a cabin (owned or rented) or hotel within the country, but must avoid public transportation when possible.

  • Travel to a person's place of work or study can be considered a necessary trip.

  • People who travel to municipalities with measures that are less strict should follow the recommendations that apply in the municipality in which they reside.

Kindergartens and schools

  • Kindergartens and schools are at yellow level, in accordance with the traffic light model.

Working life

  • Anyone who can, should work from home.

Business sector

  • Open with infection control measures in accordance with the industry standard and statutory requirements.

Sports and leisure activities

  • Children and adolescents under the age of 20 may train and participate in leisure events as usual. They are exempt from the recommendation of a 1-metre distance when this is necessary in order to participate in the activity.

  • If children and adolescents train/practice with a team, club etc. in another municipality, they may compete with this team/club if so permitted by the infection situation. (New)

  • Children and adolescents under the age of 20 who participate in sports that do not involve close contact, like skiing, may participate in outdoor sports events that gather participants from the same region.

  • Adults may participate in organised indoor activities in groups of up to 10 people, as long as they can keep a distance of at least 1 metre (New).

  • Adults may participate in organised outdoor activities, as long as they can keep a distance of at least 1 metre (New)

  • Elite athletes may train normally, both outdoors and indoors.

Higher education

  • It is possible to be on campus, with enhanced infection control measures. Access to reading rooms and libraries. Large lectures and gatherings should be avoided; teaching in small groups is allowed. (New)

National rules

Private events and gatherings:

  • Events that gather people from different municipalities should be postponed or cancelled.

The rules for events are as follows:

  • A maximum of 10 participants at private indoor events, unless this is in a private home, for example a birthday celebration in a rented venue. A maximum of 20 participants outdoors. Children in the same kindergarten or primary school cohort can gather, with the necessary number of adults accompanying them.

  • A maximum of 10 people at indoor events without designated seating, albeit up to 50 people at sports or cultural events for participants under the age of 20 who live in the same municipality (50 people for cultural events is new).

  • A maximum of 100 people at events where all of the participants sit in designated seating (new).

  • A maximum of 200 people at outdoor events, but 600 people (divided into three cohorts of 200 people each) if they sit in designated seating and there is a 2-metre distance between each cohort (new).

  • The organiser must implement measures to satisfy the distance requirements regarding participants from different households at events where participants sit in designated seating. If necessary, guards must be used to ensure this.

  • The same rules regarding serving of alcohol at events as at venues that serve food or alcohol (new).

Night life, venues that serve food or alcohol, and events that have a licence to serve alcohol

  • Alcohol may only be served in connection with the serving of food. Alcohol may only be served until 10 pm (new).

  • Contact details must be registered for the guests who permit such registration.