NORWAY EXTENDS CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS UNTIL APRIL 13: Delay until after Easter means locals unable to ‘isolate’ w/ usual cabin visits; specifics of local aid plan still pending


Norway announced Tuesday restrictions imposed March 13 due to the coronavirus, including the closure of schools/businesses and a ban on foreigners who are not citizens/residents from entering the country, will be extended until April 13 instead of ending on Friday as originally scheduled (see specific measures at end of article).

Additional restrictions are in place for Svalbard, including a quarantine for people travelling here from the mainland, although an easing of them previous announced means those who’ve already been quarantined on the mainland can seek exemption from Longyearbyen Hospital. (There are also exemptions to the overall restrictions that apply to those in essential public-service occupations.)

The extension until after Easter, in addition to furthering the near-standstill of the local tourism industry that is resulting in 90 percent of employees being laid off, means many locals who typically “isolate” themselves in cabins during the holiday period will be unable to do so due to a nationwide prohibition against staying in them.

The announcement did not include any mention of specifics in the plan the government is drafting to provide Svalbard-specific assistance to the large number of foreign residents who are not eligible for unemployment/insurance benefits because they are not from EU/EEA countries.

“The measures we have imposed appear to be slowing transmission of the virus, but we need more time to see what effect they are having,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg said during a press conference. “The government has adopted a strategy to limit the spread of infection that entails ensuring that infected persons only transmit the virus to a maximum of one other person. If this succeeds, the health service will have the capacity to help all who need it.”

Restrictions enacted nationwide:

• People must maintain physical distance from one another, practice good hand hygiene and cough in paper tissues or their elbow.
• In public spaces, people should keep at least one metre away from other people. When away from home, there should be no more than five people in a group – except for members of a family or the same household. Indoors, people should keep at least two metres away from one another, though this does not apply to family or household members.

• All of the country’s day-care centres, primary schools, lower- and upper-secondary schools, universities and university colleges and other educational institutions are to be closed.

• Children in day-care and lower primary school with parents who perform critical public functions are to continue receiving day-care or school services.

• The quarantine and isolation rules applicable after contact with an infected person (infection quarantine) continue in force. If you have been in close contact with someone who has been shown to have the coronavirus, you shall undergo quarantine for 14 days. If you have travelled abroad, you shall undergo quarantine for 14 days from the day of your return home. If you have been diagnosed with the coronavirus or are being tested for it, you must be isolated. This means you must remain home at all times and not go out. If the test is negative, you shall complete the quarantine period.

• The rules for quarantine upon entering Norway from abroad (travel quarantine) remain in force with the exemptions and clarifications that currently apply.

• The rules for rejection at the border of foreign nationals who do not live or work in Norway remain in force, with the exemptions and clarifications that currently apply.

• Border control of the internal Schengen borders is extended.

• Healthcare professionals working in patient care are prohibited from travelling abroad. This prohibition applies to both professional and private travel, with effect, for now, through April 2020.

• Cultural events, sporting events and organised sporting activities, both indoors and outdoors, are prohibited.

• All restaurants, bars, pubs and social establishments are to remain closed with the exception of serving places where food is served, such as canteens and eating establishments, that can accommodate a distance of at least 1 metre between visitors.

• Food shall not be served buffet-style.

• Fitness centres, swimming pools, water parks and similar establishments are to remain closed.

• Establishments that provide hairdressing, skin care, massage, body care, tattooing, piercing and similar services are to remain closed.

• The prohibition against staying at cabins/leisure properties is maintained.

• All of the country’s driver and vehicle licencing offices are closed.

• Public transport services are to remain in operation.
irus disease COVID-19 Health and care

This is a breaking story with updates in progress.