Norway to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, keep others

Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: People walk on the street in Oslo

By Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will ease some coronavirus restrictions as extra measures in place for two weeks seem to have had the desired effect, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Monday, although she added that infection rates remained too high for comfort.

The country has had one of the lowest infection rates in Europe, imposing tighter restrictions earlier than many other countries.

"Although the measures seem to be working, and the infection rates are somewhat lower, the situation is still uncertain," Solberg told parliament.

Norway has imposed some of the toughest travel restrictions in Europe, and it recently introduced mandatory COVID-19 testing at its borders.

"Infection rates are still too high but with common efforts we can reduce the spread," Solberg said.

"Every week that passes brings us one week closer to a situation where enough people have been vaccinated for us to be able to return to normality," she added.

The 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was at 157.95 in the week ending Jan. 10, the fifth-lowest in Europe behind Iceland, Greece, Bulgaria and Finland, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said.

Norway will now ease some restrictions and allow households to receive up to five visitors, while schools will also face lighter restrictions, with less reliance on remote learning, Solberg announced.

However, bars and restaurants are still banned from serving alcohol. Professional sports were told to halt league games for two weeks.

For last week, Norway has so far reported 2,563 new infections, after it logged a record 4,643 cases in the week ending on Jan. 10, according to preliminary data from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The data may be subject to revision as more weekend registrations are added.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty; Editing by Terje Solsvik, Giles Elgood and Hugh Lawson)