Government bans Norwegians from travelling to cabins amid coronavirus

OSLO, March 19 (Reuters) - Norway on Thursday banned people from going to their country cabins to prevent the spread of coronavirus and lessen the burden on local public services.

Many Norwegians living in cities own cottages in the mountains or by the sea, often located many kilometres (miles) from the city in small municipalities with fewer resources.

“This is about the needs of the small municipalities that have lots of cabins. They do not have the capacity to deal with sick people beyond their permanent inhabitants,” Norwegian Health Minister Bent Hoie told a news conference.

“There will be no exception.”

People who disobey the order will be fined 15,000 Norwegian crowns, or 10 days in prison if they fail to pay.

People going to their secondary homes is a concern in several European countries, including France where Parisians leaving the capital in lockdown have caused concern among rural populations.

Norway has closed a wide range of public and private institutions, including schools and kindergartens, and shut borders for non-Norwegian residents to combat the virus, which so far infected more than 1,500 people and caused seven deaths.

It has not however imposed requirements for people to stay indoors, but asked those who can to work from home and avoid leisure travel. (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche, writing by Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Angus MacSwan)