Norway Drops Pandemic Rules

Handshakes are permitted again, health minister says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2021 3:06 PM CDT
After 561 Days, Pandemic Rules End in Norway
Prime Minister Erna Solberg speaks at the United Nations on Monday in New York.   (John Angelillo/Pool Photo via AP)

New coronavirus infections in Norway have dropped by half in the past two weeks. New hospitalizations have leveled off. And University of Oxford data show that 67% of the population is fully vaccinated, while 10% has had its first shot. So the government canceled its pandemic restrictions on Saturday, the New York Times reports. "It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime," Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. "Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life." The health minister confirmed that even "handshakes will again be allowed," per the AP.

Nightclubs now are allowed to reopen, and sports and other venues, including restaurants, can return to full capacity. Social distancing rules have been canceled. The government said it will pull its advisory against nonessential travel next week. Norway will now allow visitors from a long list of countries—but not the US—with few restrictions. American travelers can only visit if they qualify for an exception, such as seeing a close relative, per USA Today. Otherwise, they'll have to wait to be considered for Norway's final phase of travel restrictions, which has no implementation date yet.

Other countries in the neighborhood are moving in the same direction. Denmark dropped its restrictions on Sept. 10, and Sweden said this week it will drop limits involving vaccinated people. "Many people have made big sacrifices in their daily life. Now it is time for the Swedish people to meet again," the health minister said, per the Local. "From September 29th, we are taking a big step towards the life we had before the pandemic." Those not among the 63% of the population who are fully vaccinated still aren't welcome at bars, restaurants, or events with crowds. “Unvaccinated people must continue to adapt their life," he said. (Read more Norway stories.)

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