Norway has set out to lift its lockdown with schools to reopen on Monday after its coronavirus infections decreased by the day, while neighbour Sweden admits a ‘big failure’ in their 3,000 fatalities.
In a roadmap to lockdown being fully lifted in the Scandinavian country, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said today that bars will be open from 1 June with cultural and sporting events of up to 200 people permitted from 15 June.
The national football championship, which was due to start in April, can get underway on 16 June, with training resuming this Thursday.
Next door, Sweden’s rocketing number of elderly deaths from coronavirus is a ‘big failure’ and the 3,000 overall deaths was a ‘horrifyingly large number’, the country’s ambassador to the US said today.
A child washes his hands at a school in Oslo, Norway on 27 April 2020. Kindergartens have already opened in the Scandinavian country and primary schools are set to open on Monday
Sweden resisted a full-scale lockdown but did prevent visits to elderly care homes as a preventative measure.
The country has faced criticism for its high death roll after keeping bars, shops and schools open, even in worst-hit Stockholm, while its Nordic neighbours have managed to keep the virus at a manageable level.
Norway, for example, has officially registered 7,995 cases of coronavirus, with 209 fatalities, while Sweden has clocked in 24,623 infections and 3,040 deaths, 90 per cent of which were elderly people.
Norway’s health minister Bent Hoie (pictured) was among those to take advantage after hairdressers were allowed to re-open on 27 April
Having kept their numbers down, Norway’s PM Solberg said today at a press conference: ‘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,’ she added.
Norway adopted a semi-confinement regime in mid-March to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Kindergartens reopened on April 20 with primary schools returning a week later.
Sweden’s ambassador to the United States, Karin Ulrika Olofsdotter (pictured), said 90 per cent of people who have died of coronavirus in Sweden were over 70
Sweden’s health minister Lena Hallengren (centre) watches health worker Gun Bjorling (right) carry out a coronavirus test at a drive-in centre in Stockholm yesterday
‘This is not the end,’ said Health Minister Bent Hoie. ‘At best, it’s the beginning of the end’.
The infection ratio, that is, the number of people infected by each patient, has now fallen to 0.49, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, which means that the epidemic is on the decline.
However, physical distancing remains the rule, travel abroad is officially discouraged and the borders remain closed to people without a residence permit.
People socialise in a park in Stockholm last week in an outdoor gathering which has been out of the question in Britain since March 23
Sweden, unlike its fellow Scandinavian neighbours, previously argued that a wider lockdown would be obsolete because it would not prevent deaths in retirement homes when visits are already banned.
Anders Tegnell, the state’s chief epidemiologist, has estimated that around half of Sweden’s deaths are taking place in care homes.
Bars and restaurants have remained open even in worst-hit Stockholm while primary schools have continued teaching without interruption.
The country has faced criticism because its rate of cases and deaths is higher than in Denmark, Norway or Finland.