News story | Date: 16/03/2021
Viken county municipality is experiencing heightened rates of infection involving the English strain of the virus, and is unable to contact trace a significant proportion of these infections. Following the recommendations of the county governor, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the government is implementing Level A measures (a very high level of measures) across Viken county municipality, as well as in the municipality of Gran in Innlandet county municipality, effective 00:01 on Tuesday 16 March. These measures will remain in force until the end of Sunday 11 April.
Arabisk PM تنفيذ تدابير إقليمية صارمة في جميع أنحاء محافظة فيكن
Polsk PM Wprowadzamy surowe regionalne obostrzenia w całym Viken
Russisk PM Об ужесточении региональных противоэпидемических мер в губернии Викен
Somali PM Tallaabooyin adag oo heer gobol ah ayaa lagu soo rogay gobolka Viken dhan
Tigrinja PM ተረርቲ ዞባውያን ስጒምትታት ኣብ መላእ ቪከን ይተኣታተው።
Urdu PM پورے ویکن میں سخت علاقائی اقدامات نافذ کیے جارہے ہیں ۔
‘Infections are rising rapidly in Viken. Municipalities’ testing and contact tracing work is coming under sustained pressure. Consequently, the government is introducing strict regional measures across Viken county and in the municipality of Gran to enable them to bring the virus back under control,’ says Bent Høie, Minister of Health and Care Services.
Recommendation from the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health
The Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health believe there is a need for strong action in municipalities that are experiencing rapid rises in infection rates. They have recommended that the government introduce Level A measures across all 51 municipalities in Viken county, as well as in the municipality of Gran in Innlandet county. The bodies have issued this recommendation despite recognising that there are significant differences in the rates of infection from municipality to municipality.
The English variant of Covid-19 is currently the dominant strain in Viken due to its higher rate of infectiousness. It is therefore necessary to impose measures that restrict mobility as a result of commuting, as well as social and cultural activities, that takes place across municipal boundaries. More than half of the municipalities in Viken county has reported facing challenges in relation to capacity for testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine. The Southern and Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority’s capacity to delivery specialist healthcare services is currently under pressure due to a high rate of hospital admissions, while its laboratories are struggling to process a large volume of tests.
Coordination and simplification
82 per cent of new infections in Norway are in Oslo, Viken and the former county of Vestfold (to the west of Oslo) where strict measures have now been introduced or are about to be deployed. In excess of 2.1 million people live in these areas - the equivalent of 40% of Norway’s total population.
At a meeting of the county governors of Oslo and Viken, the municipalities, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health held earlier today, it was established that a majority of municipalities wished to see the introduction of Level A measures. 13 municipalities did not wish to see measures introduced, while three were undecided. The municipality of Gran in Innlandet county municipality requested that it be included in the regulations due to its proximity to Lunner and close connections with Oslo.
‘Although there is variation in the rates of infection in different areas of Viken, it is important that strict, coordinated measures are imposed in order to reduce mobility across the county. The application of universal measures across the county will also make it easier to understand and follow the rules,’ says Høie.
A review of the measures will be carried out prior to their expiry on 11 April.
The government has resolved to introduce Level A measures (a very high level of measures) in the following municipalities:
- All 51 municipalities in Viken county municipality
- The municipality of Gran in Innlandet county municipality
The following is an overview of the measures that will apply to those municipalities encompassed by Level A measures (click on the + symbol to see the list of measures):
Kindergartens, schools, universities, university colleges and vocational schools
- Yellow level measures in line with the traffic light model apply to schools and kindergartens as is the case nationwide. Local assessments should be carried out in line with the infection situation. This means that the municipality acting in its capacity as the local infection prevention authority may decide that red level measures are necessary on the grounds of infection control. Nevertheless, the government will issue national recommendations for a shift to red level measures should the situation indicate this is necessary.
- Facilities at universities, university colleges and vocational schools are closed to all students and teaching must take place digitally. Personnel should otherwise adhere to the general rules applicable to the workplace.
- All events outside the home are prohibited, both indoors and outdoors, with the exception of funerals and burials.
- Digital events with a maximum of five persons present, in addition to performers and other necessary production personnel, remain permitted.
Sport and leisure activities
- The organisation of sporting activities for adults and young people is prohibited (but with a number of exemptions in place listed below). The same stipulation applies to leisure activities such as organised rehearsals, training and auditions for choirs, bands and theatres.
- Outdoor sporting and leisure activities are permitted for children and young people under the age of 20 provided this takes place in groups of no more than 10 persons and that all participants come from the same municipality. The government recommends that all activities are facilitated in a way that ensures participants are able to maintain distancing of two metres from each other.
- Everybody who can do so should work from home. Employers must ensure that personnel work from home insofar as this is practically feasible. Employers must document that instructions on how to do so within the business or organisation have been issued to employees. Employees should only travel to their workplace if it is strictly necessary. The requirement to work from home will apply to everyone who is able to.
Retail and services
All shops and department stores must remain closed, with the following exceptions in place:
- Grocery stores, including kiosks, health food shops and other retailers that primarily sell food products.
- Retailers who primarily sell animal feed and other essential items for pets and domestic animals
- Surgical stores
- One-to-one services such as hairdressers, skin care professionals, tattooists, etc.
- Healthcare providers such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, podiatrists, etc.
- Petrol stations
- Retailers for the agricultural and livestock sectors
- Stores and wholesalers in businesses that sell to the trades
Shops and department stores may remain open for click and collect on pre-purchased goods provided that appropriate, Covid-safe measures are in place to enable the safe collection of goods.
Restaurants, cafés, bars, and hotels
- All catering outlets are closed, but take away services are permitted.
- No alcohol may be served.
- Catering outlets within hotels may serve food to residents only.
The following venues and locations must remain closed
- Fitness centres.
- Swimming pools, water parks, spa facilities, hotel pools, etc.
- Religious and faith-based premises, with the exception of funeral and burial services, as well as consultations between a representative of the religious of faith-based organisation and single individuals.
- Amusement parks, bingo halls, amusement arcades, play centres, bowling alleys, etc.
- Cinemas, theatres, concert venues and equivalent cultural and entertainment facilities.
- Other public venues and facilities where cultural, entertainment or leisure activities take place that bring together people indoors.
- Everyone should avoid visiting other people’s homes or receiving visitors in their own home. Exemptions apply to:
- Necessary home-based services and visits to people who may die soon.
- Persons who live alone may receive visits from or pay visits to one or two specific friends or to one specific household.
- Children and young people may receive visitors from within their own kindergarten or primary school cohort, in addition to visits from one or two specific friends.
- When meeting other people, you should ensure a distance of 2 metres is maintained. Exceptions to this are people in your own household, as well as people specified in the bullet point above.
- Everyone should avoid non-essential travel. Employees should only travel to their workplace if it is necessary. Nevertheless, most people are subject to guidelines that stipulate they should work from home.
- Residents within a municipality subject to measures are urged not to travel to shopping centres or department stores that may be open in neighbouring municipalities.
- Residents within a municipality subject to measures may travel to a second home or leisure property, but only with people from their own household. Ensure that all purchase are made prior to departure from your own municipality. Do not visit stores, catering outlets or other places where many people may gather in the municipality that you visit. Maintain distancing from other people on the ski trail, the ski lift and when hiking. Check which advice and guidelines apply to the municipality you are visiting and adhere to them. Do not receive visitors.
- Municipalities and county municipalities should impose enhanced measures on all forms of public transport. This may include measures such as limiting passenger numbers to 50 per cent of capacity on board.
- Persons who are in high risk categories and face elevated risks of illness or death if they are infected with Covid-19 should ensure they exercise further caution.
- One-to-one businesses, such as hairdressers, should introduce enhanced measures such as the use of face coverings in situations where it is not possible to maintain distancing of at least 1 metre. Alternatively, they should reduce or temporarily suspend services that involve close face-to-face contact.
- Testing and contact tracing of close contact and household members:
- persons who are in quarantine having been instructed to do so by contact tracing should take a test on day 7-10 of their quarantine period.
- close contacts who are linked to an outbreak of the mutated coronavirus must take a PCR test both when they begin their quarantine period (immediately after being defined as a close contact) and at the end of their quarantine period (no sooner than day 7).
- members in the same household as close contacts should quarantine until the initial PCR test has been taken and a result received for the close contact. This applies in relation to the outbreak of the English strain of Covid-19.
Face coverings mandatory
- When distancing of at least one metre is not possible (with the exception of briefly passing by people outside your household), you should use a face covering. This applies in shops, common areas in shopping centre, in catering outlets, in religious and faith-based venues, on public transport and in indoor station areas, as well as in cultural, sporting and leisure activity facilities.
- Passengers must use face coverings in taxis. The passenger should put on their face covering before entering the taxi and should not remove it until the journey is completed and they have exited the vehicle. The requirement to wear a face covering also applies to the driver at all times when carrying a passenger in their taxi.
- The requirement to wear a face covering also applies to employees in locations where it is not possible to maintain distancing of at least one metre from visitors. This requirement does not apply to employees in locations where other infection prevention measures have been implemented for the benefit for personnel, such as the use of visors, partitions and so on in accordance with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health’s recommendations.
- The requirement 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 on medical or health-related grounds.
All municipalities are entitled to imposed strict guidelines and rules based on the local infection rate. It is therefore important that you monitor which rules apply in your own municipality.
Change to Level A measures for children and young people
The Norwegian Directorate of Health has received feedback that the provision contained within the Level A measures pertaining to prohibiting sporting and leisure activities is extremely strict since outdoor sporting and leisure activities for children and young people are not permitted.
The government has thus resolved to amend the Level A measures to permit organised, outdoor sporting and leisure activities for children and young people under the age of 20 provided this takes place in groups of no more than 10 persons and that all participants come from the same municipality. The government recommends that all activities are facilitated in a way that ensures participants are able to maintain distancing of two metres from each other. These changes will also apply to municipalities that are already subject to Level A measures.
‘In the interests of the well-being of our children and young people, it is particularly important that we ensure they are able to maintain a certain degree of activity even when infection rates remain troubling and it is thus necessary to impose invasive infection prevention measures. Maintaining a certain degree of outdoor activity will also help to ensure that children and young people have space in which to spend their free time that is both organised and Covid-safe,’ says Høie.
Current guidelines on sporting and leisure activities for children and young people will otherwise remain unchanged. It will remain prohibited to hold all forms of competitions, cups, matches, exhibitions and so on.
Further details about regional measures
The government may determine which measures to implement in a municipality and surrounding municipalities when it is essential that such measures are imposed quickly and in a coordinated manner in order to prevent the spread of infection.
The level of measures chosen for municipalities depends on the gravity of the infection rate or outbreak in question. There are three levels of measures that can be applied. These are Level A (a very high level of measures), Level B (a high level of measures) and Level C (a moderate level of measures).