Norway has banned alcohol sales in hospitality venues as the country’s leaders race to impose new curbs to try and slow the spread of the Omicron variant.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said that, from midnight tonight, bars and restaurants will be banned from selling booze for at least four weeks but will be allowed to remain open as part of a package of new Covid measures.
Staff have also been told to work from home where possible, mask mandates are being extended and access to public swimming pools and gyms restricted.
‘For many this will feel like a lockdown,’ Mr Store admitted, but insisted the measures are necessary to prevent a ‘serious’ situation where Delta and Omicron cases combine to overwhelm the country’s hospitals.
It comes after health chiefs warned of a ‘contagion bomb’ with up to 300,000 cases per day and 200 hospital admissions if nothing is done.
Norway will ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol for at least four weeks but will allow them to remain open to combat the spread of Omicron Covid (a graph shows case rises)
Health chiefs in Norway have warned of a ‘contagion bomb’ that could overwhelm hospitals as deaths from the virus rise, though remain below 10 per day
In nearby Denmark the situation is worsening as scientists have warned that the Omicron variant could become dominant within days.
Denmark is second worldwide only to the UK in confirmed cases of Omicron, with both countries having extensive sequencing of samples to detect variants quickly.
Denmark has recorded a total of 3,437 Omicron cases as of Monday, while the UK has recorded a total of 4,713 Omicron infections. Meanwhile, Norway recorded a total of 958 cases of the variant as of Sunday.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the UK is facing a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron as it emerged that at least one person in the country has died with the variant.
Across the Channel, France is set to be hit by a sixth Covid wave in January due to the Omicron variant, according to a leading French hospital executive.
‘We haven’t said a word on the sixth wave, which is Omicron, which will come later, in January,’ Martin Hirsch, head of Paris’s AP-HP hospitals group, Europe’s largest hospital system, told RTL radio.
France has recorded just 59 Omicron cases so far while Germany has recorded 77, which is much lower than the UK and Denmark.
But this is because Britain and Denmark are tracking and modelling the spread of the variant carefully using genome sequencing. It means that the figures they are reporting may reflect what is happening elsewhere in Europe.
Norway is setting record highs in terms of both new Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations, partly due to the spread of the Omicron variant.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) issued a dire warning on Monday as it said the government must move quickly to …….