Norway has banned the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants in an effort to curb the spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, which continues to push infections in the country on a sharp rise.
New Covid-19 rules will prohibit the sale of alcohol at bars, restaurants, and other service-based venues from Wednesday, while Norwegians are also being urged to work from home if possible.
“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.
Other countries have had a different response to the rise of the Omicron variant. On Friday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hinted that relaxed Covid-19 restrictions could allow for orgies of up to 25 people.