Speech/statement | Date: 07/05/2020
By Prime Minister Erna Solberg (Oslo, 7 May 2020)
Prime Minister Erna Solberg's introduction at press conference on Thursday 7 May.
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Good evening, everyone,
Today it is eight weeks since we introduced the most severe restrictions Norway has ever faced in peacetime. This has been an extraordinary time for us all. A time we will remember for as long as we live.
We promised early on that if we managed to suppress the virus, we would start to open up again as soon as we could.
The Norwegian people have given us their confidence and remained patient in the face of strict restrictions on their activities. Now it is our turn to keep our promise.
That is why the Government is presenting a strategy and a plan for opening up Norway again before the summer. A plan for getting back to our normal everyday lives.
I would like to say that I am very relieved that we have got this far.
Now we are talking about the order in which we should open up society again, not about what we have to close down.
This shows that our strategy has worked. And every one of us has played a part in this. I want to thank you all for your efforts.
Until now, our 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. We must make sure that our health system has the capacity to help everyone who needs it – both those suffering from COVID-19 and those with other health issues.
That is why the plan we are presenting today will only work if we continue to keep the spread of infection under control.
This means that we must lift restrictions and open up society again cautiously and gradually, and we must do this together.
And I realise that many people are feeling impatient, and that you may be able to come up with good reasons why ‘your’ activity should be permitted.
It may also be difficult to understand why one activity is permitted while another is not.
The answer is that 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 everything down again.
That is why we have to set priorities.
The Government has chosen to give priority to children and young people first. Then people’s workplaces, and after that, other activities.
The detailed plan will be published online. But there are some important dates to note.
From Monday 11 May, all schools can open again.
On 15 May, the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health will present new advice on holiday and leisure travel
On 1 June, bars and other establishments that do not serve food and amusement parks can reopen.
And from 15 June, it will be possible to hold events with up to 200 people present.
Our aim is to lift most of the restrictions by 15 June.
But – and this is a big but – we will only lift the restrictions on these dates if we manage to keep the spread of infection under control.
So we all still have a great deal of personal responsibility. We cannot allow ourselves greater freedom than the infection control rules permit.
For a long time to come, we will have to continue to keep at least one metre apart, stay at home when we are ill and wash our hands often and thoroughly.
These are the simplest, most effective and least invasive measures that will help us get back to our normal everyday lives.
I know that a lot of people are wondering when they will be able to travel abroad again. The answer is that we simply don’t know. This is not something that Norway can decide on its own. It is something we must do in cooperation with other countries. We are working on this, but unfortunately, it is too early to give you a date.
Before I hand over to Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, I would like to say this: all of us have done a good job in this concerted national effort. And we have managed to avoid a crisis in our health system.
Now we have to act in solidarity with all those affected by the economic crisis.
That is why I am asking you all to keep up the national effort.
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.