Coronavirus: Norway’s schools to reopen fully next week as lockdown measures eased

Social distancing among pupils to end after high schools opened in May

epa08144899 Norwegian Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, Erna Solberg, speaks at a media conference after the resignation of populist coallition partner Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet) from Norway's four party government coalition, in Oslo, Norway, 20 January 2020. The move will cause Prime Minister Solberg to lose her parliamentary majority. The populist Progress Party's resignation came after a controversy over the repatriation of a so-called 'IS bride' and her children to Norway.  EPA/TERJE BENDIKSBY NORWAY OUT
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The Norwegian government has announced an end next week to coronavirus social distancing measures in schools as the country also relaxes restrictions on bars and other establishments that do not serve food.

Norway’s schools, which have been among the first to reopen in Europe after strict lockdown measures were introduced across the country in March, will return to normal lessons on June 2.

Norway’s Minister of Education, Guri Melby, said as long as the situation with the Covid-19 outbreak remained unchanged entire classes would be allowed inside of a classroom regardless of its size.

Pupils will have to continue frequent hand washing and are advised to stay home when ill, Norwegian media reported.

In the Scandinavian country, kindergartens reopened on April 20, primary schools from first to fourth grade on April 27 and middle schools and high schools opened on May 11, though pupils had to stay apart under social distancing measures.

The new plans for schools coincide with a broader relaxation of restrictions for bars and some other social venues. While they will be allowed to reopen, only table service will be allowed and no food will be served.

According to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, travel between Norway and Denmark is also set to resume on June 15.

Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, presented the updated travel advice on Friday saying conversations were ongoing with the other Nordic nations of Iceland, Sweden and Finland over how normal travel could resume.

Friction has developed between the four countries over the terms of the creation of a Nordic travel area, as lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Sweden in particular has had a surge in deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began with the high per capita death toll in the country attributed to its relatively relaxed approach to coronavirus.

While most European nations went into strict lockdown in March, Sweden’s parks, restaurants and cafes remained open. Social distancing was only recommended as experts sought to build immunity in the population.

Former Norwegian prime minister and a former director general of the World Health Organisation, Gro Harlem Brundtland, has said that it has been “incredible” to see the difference in Covid-19 deaths between Norway and Sweden.

More than 4,000 people have died with the virus in Sweden and a little over 236 have lost their lives in neighbouring Norway.