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Norwegians took to the streets over the weekend to celebrate the end of strict COVID-19 lockdowns, 18 months after they were implemented.
The celebrations followed the Norwegian government's unexpected announcement of the end of most of the remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Friday. Prime Minister Erna Solberg made the announcement during a press conference, saying that beginning Saturday, life in the nation would return to normal.
“It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,” Solberg said at the news conference. “Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.”
The removal of most of the COVID-19 restrictions will allow sports venues and restaurants to fill up to full capacity, as well as permit nightclubs to reopen. While these restrictions were lifted on Saturday, Solberg did warn that anyone who contracted COVID-19 would need to go into isolation to avoid spreading the virus, according to Reuters.
Celebrations began on Saturday afternoon and lasted through the early hours of Sunday. Norwegian police reported that at least 50 fights occurred on Saturday night in Oslo, the country's capital.
Some nightclub owners expressed anger and frustration over the sudden removal of the restrictions, arguing that they should have been given notice a few days in advance. Solberg responded to criticism by saying that Norwegian health experts had supported the measure.
More than 4.1 million Norwegians have received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with over 3.6 million fully vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization. Roughly 5.3 million people live in the country.
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Original Author: Asher Notheis
Original Location: Norway celebrates end of COVID-19 restrictions