Norway has ditched all its Covid-19 measures, even social distancing, in a radical move that as yet has unclear consequences.
On Friday, the Nordic nation’s government announced that it was time to “live as normal” with Covid-19 after 561 days of enduring some kind of restriction, whether that be venue capacity limits or stay-at-home orders.
Now, Norwegians can attend restaurants, night clubs, sporting events and anything else at full capacity, with social distancing thrown out the window.
They’ve even started encouraging travel outside of Europe, removing travel warnings.
The new rules come into effect on Saturday, 4pm local time (Sunday, 4am NZT).
“It is 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime … Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told reporters.
“In short, we can now live as normal.”
That’s despite the nation of five million people having 67 per cent fully vaccinated. In comparison, in New Zealand only 41 per cent of the population is currently fully vaccinated.
The decision didn’t come out of the blue.
The extreme move is part of a four-step plan to scrap all restrictions implemented on March 10 last year.
Norway was up to the final step but it was postponed several times over fears of rising infections.
The country’s Health Minister sent a letter to municipalities asking alerting them to prepare for the ending of restrictions.
Like most countries, Norway was hit hard by the Delta strain of the coronavirus.
In total, the country has recorded nearly 186,000 local cases of Covid-19 and has tragically had 850 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, Norway has recorded 705 new cases.
However, its health body, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, recommended that society be reopened.
According to Reuters, Norway has had 98 infections per 100,000 people in its population.
Globally, there have been 230 million cases of Covid-19, with 4.7 million deaths and more than 6 billion doses of vaccine administered. In New Zealand, with a similar population size to Norway, there has so far been a total of 4162 cases (3806 confirmed and 356 probable) with 27 deaths.
Last week in Norway, Covid infection levels decreased by 33 per cent compared to the week before, while hospital admissions dropped from 95 to 67 as vaccinations caught up with the virus, according to Life In Norway.
The Norwegian government said its citizens didn’t have to live a Covid-normal life if they didn’t want to.
“When the authorities’ advice and rules essentially disappear, the individual can choose for themselves what risk they want to take and what measures they want to practice,” they said in a statement.
Norway is the second Scandinavian country to end the restrictions, following in the footsteps of Denmark who waved goodbye to lockdowns on September 10.
The UK has also adopted a largely “Covid-normal” existence although case numbers continue to flare.
Singapore adopted a similar approach in July but backflipped in less than two weeks after the plan failed miserably.
Infections went from eight to almost 200 in 10 days, prompting restrictions to be brought back for the Asian country.
In fact, on Saturday, Singapore had to tighten its restrictions even further with only groups of two allowed in restaurants and children having to switch to at-home learning, despite the nation hitting an 80 per cent double dose rate.
The news of Norway’s new-found freedom is an extra slap in the face for two Australian states – NSW and Victorian residents are both in the throes of a months-long lockdown.
Today marks exactly three months since NSW went into lockdown back in June.
As for Victoria, they are set to surpass a world record nobody wants to claim — for being the most locked-down city in the world.
If lockdown ends as planned on October 26, Melbourne will have been stuck at home for 267 days, nearly nine months out of a period of 18 months.
That’s far in front of Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, which was stuck in lockdown for 257.
Dublin has had 227 days in lockdown, London was for 207, Prague had 201 days, and Edinburgh was stuck for 195 days.
The UK and Denmark are yet to backtrack on their radical move to end Covid rules entirely. It remains to be seen whether Norway will do the same.
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