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COVID-19

New Covid rules in Norway: What happens next? 

Several new restrictions in Norway came into effect on Thursday, and the country’s PM and health authorities have outlined what could happen next. 

Pictured is a tram in Oslo.
This is what could happen next in regards to Norway's Covid rules. Pictured is a tram. Photo by Hyunwon Jang on Unsplash

New Covid measures came into effect on Thursday that reintroduced social distancing, restrictions on face masks and a recommended limit on the number of guests you should have visit, in addition to much more. 

The measures were brought in to reduce social contact among the general public and slow the transmission of coronavirus in society following weeks of rising infections and several outbreaks of the recently discovered Omicron Covid-19 variant. 

The restrictions will be in place for four weeks but will be reassessed in two weeks, and the country’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, has said that the measures could be tightened even further if they do not have the desired effect.

“If the situation turns out to be more serious in relation to infectivity and hospitalisations, then new measures may be relevant. Although I do not have the opportunity to say for certain now,” the PM told newspaper VG

He added that he currently didn’t expect significant changes would be made to the current rules when they are assessed in two weeks.  

“I do not envisage there will be significant changes in what we have decided after two weeks, but it will be an opportunity to make adjustments,” he explained.

Espen Nakstad, assistant health director at the Norwegian Directorate of Health, has also warned that stricter measures may also be required. 

“There is still great uncertainty associated with the properties of the Omicron variant. We do not rule out that there may be the need for stricter measures,” he told newspaper Dagbladet

What measures could be introduced if the infection control situation worsens? 

Before the latest measures were announced and introduced, the Norwegian Directorate of Health, which is responsible for providing the government with recommendations on the Covid rules, wrote in a professional assessment of the infection situation that a full or partial lockdown might be required in the event of “very serious infection situation”. 

“If the situation develops rapidly in an even more serious direction, further measures may be necessary. This may mean shutting down society in whole or in part,” the health authority wrote in its report.

The closure of kindergartens, gyms and a ban on cultural and sports events were among potential measures touted, as well as the closing of hospitality where food isn’t served and further restrictions on gatherings. 

How likely are measures to be tightened? 

The likelihood of these measures being introduced is currently not clear. This is since the current measures have only just been introduced. This means that it is still too early to assess whether they have been effective. 

Assistant health director Nakstad explained that it would take at least two weeks before it is possible to see if the measures have worked.

“It takes a week from when they are introduced for them to take effect. Then it can take another work after that before we see a possible change in hospital admissions, making for a total of 14 days, Nakstad told newspaper VG.

Furthermore, the health directorates recommendations are just that. This means that the government doesn’t have to implement them if they do not feel it is necessary. 

Alternatively, the infection situation could go in the opposite direction. Then, the government and health authorities can decide that new measures are no longer necessary and continue with the current rules, or perhaps even relax them if possible. 

Another hint on what could happen next can also be gleamed from the PM’s words above in which he said that he currently didn’t expect any new measures to be overly drastic. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”

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