Norway will ban the serving of alcohol in bars and restaurants, impose stricter rules in schools and speed up vaccinations as part of new efforts to limit an expected surge of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Presenting the country’s fourth round of measures in two weeks, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said there was “no doubt the new variant changes the rules”.
“That’s why we need to act fast and we need to act again,” he said.
“For many, this will feel like a lockdown, if not of society then of their lives and of their livelihoods.”
Britain on Monday recorded the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.
To speed up vaccination with booster doses, the government said the armed forces, as well as pharmacies, would assist in the inoculation campaign.
At the same time, quarantines would apply more widely, the government added.
Norway is setting record highs both in terms of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations, partly due to the spread of Omicron, which is expected to become the dominant variant in the coming days.
“A lack of action now could lead to large negative consequences for society, not just for health services and municipalities,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said.
Unless effective measures were established, the nation of 5.4 million people risks having between 90,000 and 300,000 new COVID-19 cases on a daily basis from early January, the FHI added.
Norway’s new restrictions could cast doubt on the central bank’s plan to raise interest rates later this week, DNB Markets said.
The crown currency weakened by 0.9 per cent during the day as news of the new measures emerged.