Norway eases COVID rules, allows some alcohol serving to resume

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the cityscape with the new Munch Museum, also called Lambda, to the left, in the Bjorvika neighbourhood in Oslo, Norway November 17, 2020. NTB SCANPIX/Cornelius Poppe via REUTERS

The Norwegian government will partly reverse a ban on serving alcohol in bars and restaurants, one of several policy changes as it seeks to relax COVID-19 restrictions, the prime minister said on Thursday.

"We can ease some restrictions, but not all," Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.

Bars and restaurants will be able to serve alcoholic drinks until 11 p.m. local time (2200 GMT), a partial reversal the total ban introduced in December which has hit the Nordic country's hospitality industry hard.

An outbreak of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in late November was traced back to a super spreader event at a restaurant in central Oslo, which led the Norwegian government to reintroduce some nationwide restrictions to curb the spread.

But while the number of hospitalisations rose in the Nordic country last month following a surge of COVID-19 infections, it has now fallen for several weeks even as more people tested positive for the virus.

Children will face fewer restrictions, making it easier to avoid home schooling. Youth sports activities will also be allowed to resume, although adult sports will still be restricted, the government said.

Quarantines will in many cases be replaced by a mandatory test regime, it added.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Terje Solsvik)

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