Norway removes all covid restrictions with a 67% vaccine take-up – rates the virus as the flu

Press release: Having reached a national vaccination rate of 67%, The Norwegian Directorate of Health and Norwegian Institute of Public Health have recommended moving to normal everyday life with increased emergency preparedness at the end of September/beginning of October.

After closely monitoring the situation this week, the Norwegian Government has decided to move to normal everyday life with increased emergency preparedness on Saturday 25 September at 4pm.

“Even though most people’s everyday lives will now return to normal, the pandemic is not over. People will continue to get sick, which is why it is important that everyone gets vaccinated.

“In addition, society will have increased preparedness and quickly be able to take action if the situation calls for it. The municipalities will continue to play an important role in responding if outbreaks put the capacity of the health service under pressure,” says Solberg.

When we move to normal everyday life, all domestic restrictions will be removed, apart from the requirement of going into isolation if you have covid-19. This will apply from Saturday 25 September at 4pm.

Norway rates Covid-19 as seasonal flu – here

“We no longer need to keep a distance. We can spend time with people the way we did before. We are removing the restrictions on the number of people who can attend events together. 

“Drinks no longer need to be served at tables, and admission after midnight is no longer banned.

‘We will also keep the advice we all know so well: wash hands often, cough into a tissue or our elbow, and stay home if we are sick.”

Even though most industry standards and infection control guidance will now be revoked, she encourages businesses to keep good infection control measures, such as customers having access to hand sanitiser.

“We are keeping the traffic light model for schools and kindergartens. If a municipality believes that the situation calls for local measures, the traffic light model will offer good guidance. This is important in order to give students the most normal everyday lives possible. Even though increasing numbers of people are vaccinated, situations may still arise that call for local measures”, the Norwegian Prime Minister points out.

‘In short: we can live like normal now’, stresses Ms Solberg.

Adjustments to the strategy
The primary objective of the Norwegian Government’s strategy so far has been to keep the pandemic under control. Because so many people now are vaccinated (67%), the assessments of what is required to keep the pandemic under control have changed. The transition to normal everyday life with increased emergency preparedness means that Norway is moving from a control strategy to a preparedness strategy.

“The new objective of the Norwegian Government’s strategy is to prevent the pandemic from resulting in a considerable disease burden that puts a strain on the capacity of the municipalities and hospitals. At the same time, people should live as normally as possible. Public services must operate at an appropriate level, and the economy must be protected,” says (Norway’s) Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie.

The following four indicators will be applied when the authorities assess how large a disease burden we must be able to handle:

  • The number of patients in hospital
  • The number of patients in intensive care units
  • The age distribution of patients
  • Capacity in the municipalities

“The covid-19 infection rate will therefore play a smaller role in the future, while the overall burden, which includes the flu and RSV, will become more important,” says Solberg.