Norway may have to tighten COVID-19 restrictions, PM says

FILE PHOTO: People queue on the City Hall quay to take boats to the islands in the Oslo Fjord as restrictions due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak limit the number of passengers on the ferries to 50, in Oslo, Norway May 31, 2020. NTB Scanpix/Stian Lysberg Solum via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NORWAY OUT.

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is going to stop easing coronavirus curbs for the moment and could be forced to bring back tougher measures following a recent rise in the number of cases, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday.

Norway went into lockdown in mid-March and quickly saw a sharp fall in new cases, then began a gradual easing of restrictions in May.

“The government is considering tighter measures,” Solberg told a news conference.

“We can’t open up any more at this time ... In case of a rise in the number of infections without a known source, or local outbreaks that are not contained, we will consider tighter restrictions locally, regionally or nationally,” she said.

The number of people allowed at public gatherings could be cut to 50 from the current 200, and the maximum permitted at private events to 5-10 people from 20 currently, Solberg said.

Universities, which reopened with in-person classes in August, could be told to return to all-online teaching, she added.

Earlier plans to allow adults outside of the professional leagues to take part in contact sports such as football, remain on hold for the time being, she added.

Norway, with a population of 5.4 million, reported 738 coronavirus cases last week, the highest number of any single week since early April, according to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI). Overall, it has had 11,746 cases, with 265 deaths.

Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Frances Kerry