Norwegians took to the streets over the weekend to celebrate an end to the country’s COVID restrictions after government-imposed measures limited people’s social interactions for about 18 months.
The Norwegian government announced on Sept. 24 that most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions would be scrapped beginning on Sept. 25, and that life in the nation of 5.3 million would return to normal.
“It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,” outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at a news conference. “Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.”
Norway will no longer require businesses to implement social distancing measures, and it will also allow sports and cultural venues as well as restaurants to use their full capacity, the prime minister’s office said. Nightclubs can also reopen under the new guidelines.
The virus can now be considered as one of several respiratory illnesses with seasonal variation, said Geir Bukholm, the assistant director for the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, according to local media. In Norway, COVID-19 has been classified as a generally dangerous disease, but the official classification could change soon, he said.
“We are now in a new phase where we must look at the coronavirus as one of several respiratory diseases with seasonal variation,” Bukholm told news outlet VG, referring to the COVID-19 virus.
Rowdy celebrations in the Nordic European nation erupted on Sept. 25, with thousands of citizens across Norway taking to the streets and partying until the early hours of Sept. 26.
“There was a significantly greater workload than during the summer. There were a lot of people out already in the afternoon and it continued during the night,” Rune Hekkelstrand, a police spokesman in Oslo, the capital of Norway, told the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK.
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Police said they responded to dozens of reports of unrest and violent clashes in the country’s major cities after streets, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs were filled with people celebrating the end of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Long lines were seen outside Oslo’s nightclubs, bars and restaurants nd police registered at least 50 fights and disturbances during the night. Neither vaccination status certificates nor negative test results are required to enter such venues in Norway.
“That’s exactly what I predicted would happen,” angry nightclub manager Johan Hoeeg Haanes in Oslo told Norwegian newspaper VG. “It was a life-threatening situation in the city because they (government) didn’t give us at least a few days advance notice. This was a dangerous situation, as police said all places were packed.”
Among other incidents, Norwegian media reported that police received an alert about a man carrying a machete on a bus in Oslo and people fainting while waiting to get into pubs in Trondheim.
Solberg justified the move to reopen society by saying that Norwegian health experts had supported the decision.
This is an excerpt from The Epoch Times.