Press release | No: 8/22 | Date: 14/01/2022
There continues to be a need for national measures. The infection rate is expected to remain high in the coming weeks, but Norwegian society is better equipped to handle the virus. Several measures can therefore be eased now.
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‘In easing measures now, we are prioritising children and adolescents, as well as jobs. Among other things, we are allowing more sports activities for children and adolescents. We recommend green level in upper secondary schools and adult education, and yellow level in kindergartens and primary schools. The municipalities may adapt the level of measures to the infection rate. We are also easing the quarantine rules, and are asking the municipalities to allocate resources to areas with the highest transmission rate,’ says Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
The Norwegian Government has adjusted measures based on the advice of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The Norwegian Government constantly assesses the level of measures, but will make a new overall assessment in early February.
A better overview of the Omicron situation
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health expects the infection rate to rise going ahead, but states that this variant causes less serious illness. However, hospital admissions may rise when more people become sick in the coming weeks.
‘We are entering a new phase of the pandemic. We know that Omicron leads to less severe illness and that people are less likely to be admitted to hospital. Over 1 000 000 Norwegians have gotten vaccinated during the past 4 weeks, and the supply of rapid antigen tests has increased. The vaccines offer very good protection against serious illness,’ says Mr Støre.
Stopping an Omicron-driven winter wave is not possible, nor is this desirable. More people will become ill, sick leave will increase, and there will be increased pressure on the health services, even though there continues to be some uncertainty associated with the figures.
The plans to manage the pandemic during the winter are now meant to slow down the pandemic – with measures that are as unintrusive as possible. We need to prevent too many people from becoming sick at the same time, to keep the pressure on the health and care services and society at a manageable level.
‘This is why the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health believe that it is necessary to keep most measures, while they recommend easing some of them. It is critical is that the totality of infection control measures helps us keep control,’ says Minister of Health and Care Services Ingvild Kjerkol.
The changes being made now will apply at the national level. The municipalities will continue to be able to introduce or keep stricter local measures.
Sick leave and changes to the quarantine rules
The Norwegian Government is now making some changes to the TISK strategy. For example, we are changing the quarantine rules, so that testing can be used more often to replace quarantine.
‘Many people will become infected with COVID-19 during the next few months, and there will be a high rate of sick leave. All companies and enterprises must prepare for this. Plans must be made to maintain as normal operations as possible during a difficult time. The changes to the transmission quarantine requirements currently being made by the Norwegian Government mean that more people will be able to live normally, even though there is widespread transmission in society,’ states Ms Kjerkol.
Alcohol may be served until 11 pm
The Norwegian Government banned the serving of alcohol throughout the country in mid-December, following the advice of the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. The agencies are now of the opinion that these measures can be eased.
‘We are now allowing alcohol to be served until 11 pm. Alcohol must be served at tables, as this reduces guest mobility and prevents transmission,’ says Ms Kjerkol.
These are the national measures
In effect from Friday 14 January at 12 am. The changes regarding kindergartens, schools and after-school programmes will apply from Saturday 15 January at 12 am. The measures will be reviewed in early February.
General infection control advice
- Practice good hand and cough hygiene.
- Get vaccinated.
- Stay home if you are sick.
- Get tested for COVID-19 if you develop respiratory symptoms.
Distance and social contact
- All people are recommended to keep a 1-metre distance from other people than those within their household or corresponding close relations.
- The recommendation to keep a 1-metre distance does not apply to children in kindergarten or primary school.
- The recommendation to keep a distance does not apply to adults who work with children, adolescents, and vulnerable groups.
- Everyone should consider how many close contacts they have in total.
- A recommendation to reduce the number of close contacts, but do not isolate yourself
- A maximum of 10 guests at home in addition to household members.
- Children in kindergartens and primary schools (own cohort) are exempt from the recommendation to limit the number of guests.
- Good ventilation is recommended when people spend time in the same room as people outside their household or corresponding close relations.
- A recommendation to meet other people outdoors when possible.
- A recommendation to avoid shaking hands.
- People who are at risk of serious illness and unvaccinated adults should shield, including taking particular care about or avoiding: large groups and events at venues that serve food or alcohol, as it is known that it is difficult to keep a distance, as well as unnecessary travel to areas with a high infection rate. However, these people should not isolate themselves. Some social contact is important.
- A recommendation to avoid taking public transport when it is crowded.
- A requirement to wear a face covering when it is not possible to keep a distance of at least 1 metre in shops, shopping centres, venues that serve food or alcohol, public transport, taxis, and indoor station areas. The requirement also applies to employees unless physical barriers have been put in place.
- There is no requirement to wear a face covering while sitting at a table at a venue that serves food or alcohol.
Organised sports and leisure activities
- Leisure activities should take place outdoors as far as possible.
Children and young people under the age of 20:
- Outdoor activities may go ahead as normal.
- The recommended group size indoors is about 20 or in accordance with the class/cohort size.
- Indoor activities may involve contact, if necessary.
Adults over the age of 20:
- Indoors, a recommendation of a maximum of 20 people and a 1-metre distance. For intensive training, a 2-metre distance should be facilitated.
- Adults can participate in outdoor activities as normal, with contact, if necessary.
- Elite sports may go ahead as normal, with infection control measures.
Kindergarten, school, and after-school programmes
- Yellow is no longer the statutory national level of measures in kindergartens, primary and lower secondary schools, and after-school programmes.
- Red is no longer the statutory national level of measures in upper secondary schools.
- There is still a requirement to operate in accordance with the infection control rules.
- A national recommendation of yellow level in kindergartens and primary and lower secondary schools when the local infection rate calls for it, but the municipalities must make their own assessments, according to the local situation.
- A national recommendation of green level in upper secondary schools and adult education, but the municipalities must make their own assessments, according to the local situation.
- Increased use of regular testing in kindergartens and schools in areas with a high infection rate.
- The municipalities are asked to monitor developments in the infection rate and adjust the level of measures in line with the situation. Kindergartens and schools must be prepared to quickly move to a stricter level of measures.
- Operation in accordance with the infection control rules continues to be a requirement.
- Universities, university colleges, and vocational schools should prepare for more physical teaching.
- This is contingent on their following general infection control advice: ventilation, distance, and people staying home if they develop symptoms.
- As long as tests are in adequate supply, it is recommended that regular testing of students be facilitated. Tests should be handed out to students, and it should be easy to for students to collect tests on campus.
- Small groups/assignment work/seminars in classrooms should be limited to 30 people with a 1-metre distance between them. The recommendation to keep a distance may be disregarded if this is necessary in order to provide the teaching.
- The attendance restrictions for public events with designated seating apply to teaching in large auditoriums, as well as the requirement to operate in accordance with the infection control rules.
- Employers are required to ensure that employees work from home if this is feasible and does not have a negative impact on services that are important and necessary for the business, including activities to protect children and vulnerable groups.
- The recommendation to work from home and wear a face covering does not apply to services where this prevents employees from performing necessary statutory tasks for vulnerable groups, as well as children and young people.
- Recommendation of a 1-metre distance.
- Recommendation to wear a face covering when it is not possible to keep a distance, unless physical barriers like partitions, etc. have been put in place.
- A requirement to wear a face covering in some public-facing areas of working life. See the section on ‘Face coverings’ below.
- Good ventilation is recommended when people spend lengthy periods of time in the same room as people outside their household or corresponding close relations.
Events and gatherings
- A requirement of infection control measures, distance, and the use of face coverings.
- Limit the number of social gatherings and events you attend.
- Private events/gatherings at a public venue or in a rented/borrowed venue:
Indoors: a maximum of 30 people – a maximum of 50 people at memorial services.
Outdoors: a maximum of 50 people.
A requirement for participants indoors to wear a face covering.
- Indoor public events:
Without designated seating: a maximum of 30 people.
With designated seating: a maximum of 200 people.
A requirement for participants to wear a face covering.
- No recommendation to postpone or cancel indoor events associated with organised leisure activities that gather children and adolescents under the age of 20 from different locations.
- A recommendation of individual matches for team sports. No tournaments, cups, etc. Group sizes at competitions should be limited for individual sports.
- Athletes and support personnel at indoor public cultural or sports events that gather children and young people under the age of 20 are not included in the total number of people who may be present at the event.
- There is an exemption from the distance requirement for athletes at indoor cultural and sports events.
- There is no restriction on the number of participants with the necessary number of adults present at outdoor events associated with organised cultural, sports, and leisure activities for children and young people under the age of 20. If more than 100 people are present, no public areas or indoor facilities must be made available for use, with the exception of toilets.
- A recommendation to avoid taking public transport when it is crowded.
- A requirement to wear a face covering when it is not possible to keep a 1-metre distance.
- In taxis, a requirement for both the passenger and the driver to wear a face covering.
Venues that serve food or alcohol
- Alcohol may not be served after 11 pm at places with a licence to serve alcohol, and people must stop drinking alcohol at the venue by 11:30 pm.
- Alcohol must be served at tables.
- The venue must ensure that all guests can keep a 1-metre distance from other people than those within their household or corresponding close relations.
- A requirement to wear a face covering when it is not possible to keep a 1-metre distance, exemption when guests are sitting at a table.
- A requirement to register guests who permit such registration.
Quarantine and testing
- Close contacts who are household members or corresponding close relations of an infected person must go into transmission quarantine for 10 days after their last contact with the person.
- They must get tested as soon as possible using a self-test, rapid antigen test administered by health personnel, or a PCR test. They may end quarantine early if they present a negative result from a PCR test taken no sooner than 7 days after the close contact.
- The duty to quarantine does not apply to people who have recovered from COVID-19 during the past 3 months
- The duty to quarantine does not apply to people who received a booster dose at least 1 week before the close contact and who get tested every day for 7 days after the close contact using a self-test, rapid antigen test administered by health personnel or every other day using a PCR test.
- There are also certain exemptions for key personnel in critical societal functions, among others.
Other close contacts do not have a duty to quarantine, but are recommended to get tested 3 days after the close contact, and to take a new test 2 days later (day 5). Be particularly aware of symptoms for 10 days. If symptomatic: stay home and get tested.
Operation in accordance with the infection control rules
- This involves a requirement to ensure that it is possible to keep a distance of at least 1 metre from people who do not belong to the same household or corresponding close relations, and for the enterprise to have drawn up procedures for good hygiene, good cleaning, and ventilation.
- A requirement for kindergartens, schools, and other training and educational institutions to operate in accordance with the infection control rules.
- Amusement parks, soft play centres, amusement arcades, etc. must be closed.
- Fitness centres, indoor swimming pools, water parks, spa facilities, and hotel pools, bowling alleys, etc. may open to a maximum of 20 people for indoor group training.
- The following enterprises must operate under the infection control rules to remain open: libraries, bowling alleys, museums, bingo halls, indoor swimming pools, water parks, spa facilities, hotel pools, fitness centres, shopping centres, shops, trade fairs, temporary markets, etc.
- With the exception of libraries, museums, shops, and shopping centres, the enterprises must register the contact details of guests who permit such registration.
- Industry guidance should be followed for fitness centres and indoor swimming pools, among others. In practice, this means that there will be stricter requirements regarding infection control.
Travel – arrival in Norway
- In general, all travellers must complete entry registration prior to arrival in Norway.
- In general, all travellers must get tested upon arrival in Norway.
- In principle, travellers who cannot produce a verifiable COVID-19 certificate showing that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 during the past 6 months must also get tested prior to departure for Norway.
- In principle, travellers who arrive from a country that triggers a duty to quarantine and who cannot produce a verifiable COVID-19 certificate showing that they are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 during the past 6 months must complete travel quarantine.