Norway to end pandemic restrictions

FILE Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg gestures as she speaks during the Government's press conference on coronavirus Covid-19 lockdown in Norway. Fredrik Hagen / NTB Scanpix / AFP

Norway will reopen society on Saturday, the government said on Friday, ending pandemic-curbing restrictions that have limited social interaction and hobbled many businesses.

"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 a news conference.

The restrictions will end at 1600 CET (1400 GMT) on Saturday, she said.

The decision to no longer require social distancing will allow culture and sports venues to utilise their full capacity, rather than just a portion of seats, while restaurants can fill up and nightclubs reopen.

Solberg had so far implemented the first three stages of a four-step plan to remove social and economic restrictions imposed since March of last year, but the final step was postponed several times amid worries over infection rates.

"In short, we can now live as normal," Solberg said.

Some 76% of all Norwegians have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 67% of the population is fully vaccinated according to the Institute of Public Health.

"I want to say: thank you very much Norway," Solberg said.

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