Norway will step up restrictions and speed up vaccination in an effort to stem the expected wave of the Omicron variant of the new coronavirus, Prime Minister Jonas Stere announced tonight.
Introducing the fourth package in two weeks, the government announced that the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants will be banned, gyms and swimming pools will be closed for most of their customers, while stricter rules will be applied in schools.
“The’re is no doubt. The new variant changes the rules. That is why we need to act quickly and again, “Stere said in a televised press conference. “For many, this will be like a lockdown, not so much for society as for their lives and livelihoods,” he added.
To speed up the pace of vaccination with booster doses, the government said the armed forces and pharmacies would help with the campaign. The interval from the second to the third installment will be reduced to 4.5 months for all persons over 45 years of age and the medical staff. By mid-January the booster dose is expected to be extended to all age groups of the population.
Teleworking will become mandatory – if possible – and mask use will be extended. Authorities also proposed canceling some sports.
Effective from Tuesday
The measures will take effect from tomorrow at midnight and will last for four weeks.
Norway has a record number of infections and hospitalizations, in part due to the spread of the Omicron variant, which is expected to become the predominant one in the country in the coming days. “Inaction now could have negative consequences for society, not just for health services and municipalities,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) warned. If no effective measures are taken, from the beginning of January in the country of 5.4 million inhabitants 90,000-300,000 new cases of Covid-19 may be recorded daily. To date, 958 Omicron cases have been identified across the country, of which 472 in Oslo.