Norwegian authorities announced that new COVID-19 rules will ban the sale of alcoholic beverages at bars, restaurants, and other service-based venues starting from Wednesday.
Norwegians are also strongly urged to work from home, if possible, in order to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 Omicron strain, which continues to push the country’s new infection case numbers to new records.
“Infection rates in Norway are increasing sharply, and we have now gained new knowledge about the omicron variant and how fast it can spread. We are in a more serious situation,” declared Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who claimed that the “stricter measures” were necessary “to maintain control of the pandemic.”
Støre said there was “no doubt the new variant changes the rules,” before acknowledging that the new rules “will feel like a lockdown” for many, “if not of society, then of their lives and of their livelihoods.”
Norway’s previous rules – put into place just days before the latest measures, which were announced on Monday – allowed alcohol to be served at bars and restaurants until midnight, though only at tables and only if the venue had enough socially-distanced seating to accommodate all customers.
COVID-19 cases in Norway have experienced a sharp rise since October – recording its highest daily numbers since the start of the pandemic. Last week, Norway recorded 21,457 confirmed cases and 33 deaths.