Norway delays full reopening over Delta Covid-19 variant
Norway has decided to delay the final phase of reopening until at least the end of the month over concerns around the Delta variant of Covid-19.
While some Covid-19 restrictions will be eased in Norway this week, bars and restaurants will remain limited to table service only, and gatherings of more than 20 people in private homes remain prohibited – two restrictions that were set to be lifted today.
Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Monday: “There is a risk that the Delta variant will cause a fourth wave of infection in the unvaccinated part of the population among those who have only received one dose or are in vulnerable groups”.
“We have chosen to wait and see how the Delta variant affects the infection situation.”
She added that the next step of reopening would not take place until the end of July or beginning of August.
The Delta variant, first seen in India, is quickly becoming the globally dominant strain of Covid-19, according to the World Health Organisation, and the Norwegian health minister said that it could become the dominant variant in Norway this month.
To date, nearly two thirds of eligible Norwegians have received a Covid vaccine, and 37 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated.
Some restrictions were eased, however, and as of Thursday this week people will be allowed to attend outdoor events with up to 7,000 people in attendance, where assigned seating is in place and the venue is below 50 per cent capacity. Indoors, up to 3,000 people can attend events provided that there is assigned seating.
In both cases, attendees must present a Norwegian Covid-19 certificate, which contains data about each individual’s most recent Covid vaccination, recovery from Covid infections within the past six months, and recent negative Covid test results.
Venues will now also be allowed to welcome guests onto their premises past midnight.
On 3 July, Norway recorded 112 new Covid cases. The country has recorded 131,945 Covid infections and 794 related deaths since the pandemic began.