Norway plans to fully lift its lockdown with schools opening on Monday after successfully flattening the curve
Norway is about to lift its quarantine by the middle of June, after suffering only a little over 200 coronavirus fatalities.
The Scandinavian country was among the first European nations to import strict social distancing measures on March 12, as Mail Online reports. Currently, the Norwegian government plans on having almost all restrictions lifted by June 15, after successfully flattening the curve.
By May 8, in Norway, there are 8,034 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with only 217 deaths. In contrast, their neighbor Sweden has suffered 24,623, with 3,040 fatalities, which is approximately 14 times more than Norway’s death toll.
Presently, as Norway is aiming to return to normal, Sweden still needs to keep its restrictions in place to keep the coronavirus cases down.
On Thursday, May 7, the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced that the lockdown restrictions will be gradually removed, starting Monday, May 11.
For instance, public gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed, as well as private gatherings of 20 people, provided social distancing can be maintained. Moreover, workplaces and sports halls will reopen, as long as they practice strict social distancing too.
What’s more, on May 11, schools and colleges will reopen as well, provided infection rates stay down. However, bars and amusement parks will follow suit on June 1.
In Norway, the complete lockdown lifting is projected to happen on June 15.
The Prime Minister stated:
“You have shown us patience, now it is our turn to give back. That is why we are presenting a plan to reopen Norway, a plan to take back everyday life.”
The decision of lifting the quarantine comes as the country reached the milestone in beating coronavirus – having an ‘R’ figure of less than 1.0. Currently, the Norwegian ‘R’ figure, or the number of people each virus carrier infects on average, is only 0.49. This means COVID-19 in the country is in a downturn.
Acknowledging that her country has kept its numbers on the low, at a Friday press conference, Solberg said:
“Our goal is that by June 15 we will have reopened most of the things that were closed. But there is an important condition. We will only end confinement on these dates if we manage to keep the epidemic under control.”
Meanwhile, the Swedish government has grappled with severe criticism over being too slow to react to the outbreak.
They are also being blamed for not doing enough to safeguard the elderly in care homes, as nearly 90% of the coronavirus fatalities in the country are in people aged over 70.
Although Sweden banned all visits to care homes, this restriction wasn’t enough to stop the virus from spreading. In an interview for FOX News, Sweden’s ambassador to the US Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter confessed:
“That’s, of course, a big failure we have and it’s something that we’re working on.”
Since Sweden has decided not to import full lockdown on its residents, bars and restaurants have remained open even in worst-hit Stockholm. Besides, primary schools have also continued teaching without interruption.
Unfortunately, this strategy wasn’t as successful as the Swedish government believed it would be. The numbers, compared to their other Nordic neighbors, remain unfavorable to Sweden, even taking into account the differences in population and density.