Norway to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, PM says

FILE PHOTO: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg speaks during a news conference about the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Oslo, Norway September 3, 2020. Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway will start to unwind some restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and allow more people to gather in private homes and at events from Friday, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Tuesday.

The easing of rules at the national level will not affect those in areas where infection rate is the highest, such as in the capital region, she said.

“The infection numbers are now down. Hospitalisations are fewer. The measures look to have had an effect,” Solberg told a news conference.

Norway has had some of Europe’s lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, but imposed stricter measures after a rapid increase in hospitalisations in March led by more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

(GRAPHIC: Norway weekly COVID-19 infections – )

Norwegians will from Friday again be allowed to receive up to five guests in private homes, up from two currently, and restaurants can serve alcohol under certain conditions.

Norway is thereby removing some of the restrictions imposed in late March, the toughest seen so far in some hard-hit areas such as in the capital region, where the more contagious variant first identified in Britain as B.1.1.7 now dominates.

Solberg last week presented a four-step plan for easing Norway’s restrictions, hoping three steps could be completed by the end of June, possibly removing many curbs on travel ahead of the summer holidays, unless new setbacks emerge.

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