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The Norwegian Government is introducing regional measures in Oslo and several municipalities in the counties of Viken and Innlandet to delay and limit the spread of the new Omicron virus variant.
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‘Our objective is to keep the pandemic in check. We must protect the capacity of the health service in municipalities that may be affected by outbreaks of the Omicron variant. It is important that we quickly reduce contact and mobility in these areas. At the same time, we do not want to bring unnecessary restrictions into people’s lives. However, the Norwegian Government will implement stricter measures if necessary,’ says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
A large outbreak of the Omicron variant has been confirmed in Oslo in connection with a Christmas party, which was attended by people from Oslo and the municipalities surrounding the capital. The Omicron variant has also been confirmed in Øygarden municipality and in some travellers from Southern Africa to Norway.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health believes that the large outbreak associated with the event shows that Omicron is highly transmissible and that it is possible that the vaccines are less effective in terms of transmission. No conclusions have been drawn yet as to whether the Omicron variant results in more serious illness. The vaccines probably offer protection against serious illness, but it is unclear how much.
‘We need more knowledge. The regional measures will help us delay the spread of the Omicron variant in Norway until more elderly people have been vaccinated and we know more. The infection rate in the country is also rising in general, especially in Oslo and Viken, and these measures will also limit general transmission,’ states Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
The regional measures will be introduced in the municipalities that are affected by ongoing outbreaks of the Omicron variant and where the specialist health service is under strain. This includes the municipalities that belong to the catchment area of Akershus University Hospital. Several of these municipalities belong to the same larger region, and there is high general and work-related mobility between the municipalities.
The following regional measures are being introduced in selected municipalities pursuant to Regulations:
- Mandatory use of face coverings when it is not possible to keep a distance of at least 1 meter in shops, shopping centres, venues that serve food or alcohol, public transport, indoor station areas, and taxis. The duty to wear a face covering does not apply to children under the age of 12, or to those who are unable to wear a face covering for medical or other reasons.
People are also recommended to wear a face covering in places where there are many people and it is difficult to keep a distance – for example at the cloakroom after attending an event or when you are in a crowd leaving a football stadium. The duty to wear a face covering does not apply while sitting in designated seating or at a table in a venue that serves food or alcohol.
- Requirement that workplaces at which it is possible for employees to work from home, without this having a negative impact on important and necessary services, make sure that employees work from home for all or part of the week. For example, arrangements can be made for employees to work from home half of the time.
- Attendance restriction for indoor private events of up to 100 people at a public venue or in a rented/borrowed venue.
- Duty for venues that serve food or alcohol and event organisers to register guests in order to be able to notify guests if they are exposed to infection.
- Requirement to only serve alcohol at tables for venues that serve food or alcohol and events that have a licence to serve alcohol.
- Requirement of seating for all guests at venues that have a licence to serve alcohol.
- Attendance restriction for indoor events without designated seating of up to 600 people (in cohorts of 200).
The following municipalities are covered by the Regulations containing regional measures:
- Nordre Follo
The regional measures will enter into effect from Friday 3 December 2021 at 12 am. The measures will initially be in effect for 14 days.