The Government’s plan for reopening Norwegian society and easing the coronavirus restrictions

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The Norwegian Government has today presented its plan for managing the COVID-19 crisis in the time ahead, and a timetable for lifting the most severe restrictions. All schools are expected to open for all years by the end of next week.

‘Thanks to everyone’s joint efforts since mid-March, we have got the spread of coronavirus under control. This means that we can now gradually lift the strict measures we introduced. Our aim is to allow as many businesses and activities as possible to reopen and start up again before the summer. But to implement these plans we must make sure that we keep the spread of infection under control,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Until now, the Government’s strategy has been to suppress the virus. Now we are moving on to a control strategy, focusing on limiting the spread of infection. But the underlying aim is still the same – to make sure that the health system has the capacity to help everyone who needs it, both those suffering from COVID-19 and those with other health issues. When they reopen, all businesses, services and activities must therefore be run in a way that complies with infection control guidelines.

‘The fact that we are lifting restrictions may give the impression that the pandemic is dying down. It is not. It is the way we are dealing with it that is changing,’ said Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.

‘We can open up Norwegian society again because we have succeeded in suppressing the spread of infection. As we lift the restrictions, we must keep the spread of infection under control by testing more people and through contact tracing, isolation and quarantine,’ said Mr Høie.

He also emphasised that we must continue with the simple measures that we know make a difference and have little negative impact: washing our hands often and thoroughly, following the rules for good cough hygiene, keeping at least one metre away from other people and staying at home if we are ill.

‘A lot of children and teenagers are waiting impatiently to meet their friends and teachers again. They will finally be able to return to school next week. It won’t be quite what they are used to – they will be spending more time outside, and there will be less physical contact. But we will try to normalise the school day as much as we possibly can,’ said Minister of Education and Integration Guri Melby.

The Prime Minister emphasised that we cannot open everything at the same time.  

‘I realise that many people are feeling impatient now, and that you may be able to come up with good reasons why ‘your’ activity or business in particular should be able to start up now. But if we try to accommodate everyone’s wishes, we will open up too quickly and the spread of infection will increase again. In that case, we would have to close society down again, and that is not what we want to do,’ said Ms Solberg.

The plan for opening up Norwegian society gradually is dependent on our keeping the spread of infection under control.

‘If the virus flares up again, we may not be able to lift the restrictions as planned,’ said Ms Solberg. 

‘We must limit the spread of infection, get people back to work and return to our normal everyday lives. We can do this if we all pull together,’ said the Prime Minister.

The main changes are listed below. Follow this link for more information on infection control rules, etc for the different measures (in Norwegian only)

The following changes will apply from 7 May:

  • The recommended size of groups who can meet is being increased from five to a maximum of 20, provided that people can keep at least a metre apart.
  • This means that training and other sports activities for up to 20 people will be possible, provided that people keep at least one metre apart. The recommendations of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the relevant sports associations will apply and should be followed.
  • Sports halls may be opened, but use of their changing facilities is prohibited.
  • Events with up to 50 participants may be held in public places provided that the participants can keep a social distance of at least one metre and there is an event organiser responsible for ensuring that the rules are respected. This applies to all types of events, including sports events such as cups and matches.

An employee or person contracted to organise an event in a public place is not counted as a participant in the event. The precise role of the organiser should be clarified in standards for the different sectors.

  • The prohibition against foreign travel for health personnel is repealed. However, the Government still advises against foreign travel. Anyone who has travelled outside Norway must go into quarantine when they return.  
  • Quarantine rules after travel abroad may well apply until after the summer, and people should be prepared for this.
  • The quarantine period is being reduced from 14 to 10 days. Anyone who has been in close contact with a person who is confirmed to have contracted the virus up to 48 hours before they showed the first symptoms must go into quarantine. The quarantine rules still apply if you have been closer than two metres from a person who has confirmed COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes. People who are confirmed to have had COVID-19 are exempt from the duty of quarantine for six months.
  • Employers should ensure that their employees can remain at least one metre apart throughout working hours. In parts of the country where employees need to use public transport, employers are urged to facilitate working from home and virtual meetings as far as possible, and to require people to be physically present only when necessary. This applies particularly in the Oslo region and other towns where public transport can become congested.

The following changes will apply from 11 May:

  • All schools are to open for all years by the end of next week (15 May). They must follow the infection control rules, and this may mean that it is not possible for all pupils to be at school at the same time.
  • Educational programmes for adults and immigrants may restart. This applies to educational programmes for newly arrived immigrants under the Introduction Act, programmes under Chapter 4 of the Adult Education Act, and short courses offered by the folk high schools. These programmes can be restarted provided that they can comply with infection control guidelines.
  • Driving schools may reopen. They must follow the same infection control rules as other services where there is one-to-one contact.
  • The aim is to allow bingo halls and similar facilities to reopen.
  • Universities, university colleges and vocational technical colleges are to continue remote teaching. Students who need to be at their institution to maintain progression in their study programmes may be granted access. They must comply with infection control guidelines.
  • Courses run by adult education associations and Skills Norway are to continue remote teaching. Students who need to be at their institution to maintain progression in their study programmes may be granted access. They must comply with infection control guidelines.
  • Guidelines for sports activities will be published, focusing on activities for children and young people that involve physical contact, such as football. The aim is to allow them to engage in these activities rather more normally than at present, for example to play matches against others in their team. This must be organised in compliance with infection control standards.

The following changes are planned from 1 June:

  • Bars and other establishments that serve drink but not food may open provided that they can comply with the rule of maintaining a distance of at least one metre between people. Requirements on seating and table service will be set out in regulations. 
  • Amusement parks may reopen.
  • Organised swimming activities, including school swimming lessons, will be permitted.  
  • The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health will draw up new advice on holiday and leisure travel by 15 May at the latest, which will apply from 1 June.  

The following changes are planned from 15 June:

  • Events with between 50 and 200 people will be permitted.
  • The intention is to reopen gyms and fitness centres, provided that the health authorities, in cooperation with this sector, have arrived at appropriate infection control measures.
  • The intention is to reopen water parks and swimming pools for the general public, provided that the health authorities, in cooperation with this sector, have arrived at appropriate infection control measures.
  • Matches in the top division of Norwegian football will be permitted from 16 June under an exemption from the COVID-19 regulations.