Norway has announced the end of its controversial ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants. Although the ban has been replaced with a national curfew on the sale of alcohol at 11 p.m. and mandatory table service, the news is sure to be met with cheers from the Norwegian hospitality industry.
The government was under increasing pressure from city mayors and business leaders to lift the ban, one of the few such measures in place in Europe during the holiday season. Introduced in mid-December, the ban has resulted in the temporary closure of many bars and restaurants, leading to employee layoffs.
Kristin Krohn Devold, director of the travel industry association NHO Reiseliv, was one of those leading the appeals. She said the ban was “not rational” and that the time had come to “learn to live with the pandemic”.
A boost to travel to Norway
The move makes traveling to Norway for winter city breaks, Northern Lights safaris or ski trips a more attractive proposition. Although travel restrictions remain in place, fully vaccinated travelers from Europe are essentially free to visit Norway.
Fully vaccinated travelers with a Covid-19 digital certificate that meets EU standards can enter Norway for tourism purposes without the need to self-quarantine. However, travelers are required to test upon arrival at airports, or within 24 hours when testing facilities are not available.
Travelers without a valid certificate can still enter Norway without quarantine as long as their country of residence is classified as green or yellow by the color codes of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
Latest Covid-19 situation in Norway
Although the daily number of positive test results in Norway reached record highs last week, the number of hospital patients has steadily declined since peaking around a month ago when the alcohol ban was introduced.
The Norwegian Directorate of Health has stressed that many people believe that the national measures are not proportionate to the risk posed by the Omicron variant and the high vaccination rate. “It should be communicated even more clearly that the measures are there to prevent the health system and other important societal functions from being overloaded,” said Deputy Director of Health Espen Nakstad.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced the easing of the measures at a press conference with Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vedum and Health Minister Ingvild Kjerkol.
Earlier this week, Støre said the government would lift the alcohol ban if advice it received from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Norwegian Directorate of Health suggested it was safe to do so. To do.
Other measures announced included an easing of restrictions in schools and an increase in the capacity of indoor public events with fixed seating positions to 200. In the event of positive tests, the self-test will be used more in place of a period of quarantine.
However, the recommendation to continue with home office arrangements wherever possible remains in place, as does the requirement to use a face mask when social distancing cannot be maintained.
“We are still living with a pandemic. We therefore ask people to limit the number of close contacts. It is a personal responsibility that each individual should think about, ”added Støre.