Norway will lift its coronavirus restrictions in four stages, each spaced at least three weeks apart, Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Wednesday.

The country of 5.4 million has been relatively successful in keeping COVID-19 at bay with just over 100,000 cases and only 683 deaths.

But in announcing the plans to reopen, Solberg did not want to commit to a date for a return to normal.

“The reopening must be based on data, not dates,” Solberg told the Norwegian parliament. 

A gradual easing of restrictions will be made in the light of the epidemic situation, the capacity of the health system and the progress of roll-out of vaccines, she said.

Although she did not reveal a precise timetable, Solberg estimated that the first three steps, barring unforeseen circumstances, would probably be completed by the end of June. 

Faced with a resurgence of virus cases traced to the more contagious British variant, Norwegian authorities tightened restrictions just before the Easter holidays.

They temporarily banned the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants, closed gyms and public swimming pools, urged people to limit social interaction drastically and introduced stricter quarantine requirements for most travellers entering the country.

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Photo: HAAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN / NTB / AFPNorway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg. Photo: HAAKON MOSVOLD LARSEN / NTB / AFP

The government will consider “in the next few days” whether to rescind the tougher measures introduced on March 25, which would be the first of four steps towards normalisation, according to Solberg.

About three weeks will have to pass between each stage to measure the effects of the eased measures, and these can be reversed depending on the situation.

“I understand that many would like to see a plan with concrete dates,” Solberg said.

“We can’t. There are too many uncertainties,” she added, citing possible new mutations and variations in vaccine deliveries.

Like Denmark, Norway has kept the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold, after numerous cases of severe blood clots, some of them fatal, among people who had received the jab.

Although she did not reveal a precise timetable, Solberg estimated that the first three steps, barring unforeseen circumstances, would probably be completed by the end of June. 

The Norwegian authorities are also working on a “corona certificate” that could enable more freedom for those vaccinated or immunised against the virus.

Although she did not reveal a precise timetable, Solberg estimated that the first three steps, barring unforeseen circumstances, would probably be completed by the end of June. 

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