The Norwegian health minister has announced that the long-awaited end of lockdown will be postponed until at least mid-August amid fears about the growth of the more contagious Delta variant.
Speaking on Wednesday, Health Minister Bent Hoeie told a news conference that the end of lockdown would be postponed for a second time. “A new assessment will be made in mid-August,” Hoeie stated.
Striking a rather pessimistic tone, the minister told reporters that “the pandemic is not over” and “we will never get rid of this virus,” according to local news agencies.
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Citing examples from the UK and the Netherlands, both of which have higher rates of vaccination, he noted that the Delta variant is clearly an issue which Norway will have to deal with eventually.
Hoeie said the government was therefore following the advice of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and would not implement “step four” of the state’s reopening plan.
As a result, the last of the country’s lockdown measures will remain in place, including limits on private gatherings in homes to 20 people. Restaurants are also limited to table service only.
On July 5, the government elected not to move forward with plans to end the lockdown, once again citing concerns about the Delta variant.
In Norway, around 80% of adults have had their first shot but only 41% of adults are fully vaccinated. By comparison, around 71% of adult Britons are vaccinated against Covid-19 but the Delta variant has seen cases jump, although hospitalizations and deaths are significantly down compared to previous waves.
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