Oslo to shut down social life to fight virus spread in Norway

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s capital Oslo will shut down theatres, cinemas, training centres and swimming pools to contain the spread of the coronavirus, city authorities said on Friday, with bars and restaurants no longer able to serve alcohol.

“We are doing a social lockdown of Oslo,” the governing mayor of Oslo, Raymond Johansen, told a news conference. “The numbers are clear. The number of infected cases is rising.”

The rules take effect on Monday at 2300 GMT. They will end in three weeks if the authorities see a fall in new infections.

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced a fresh round of recommendations and restrictions, including telling Norwegians to avoid travelling domestically and to stay at home as much as possible.

Norway’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was 105.3 as of Friday, the third-lowest in Europe behind Finland and Estonia, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

But there are regional disparities and authorities are most concerned about the situation in Oslo and Bergen, the second-largest city.

In Oslo, the 14-day cumulative number of new COVID-19 cases was 192.5 per 100,000 inhabitants, local authorities said, with 5.2% of people tested for the disease returning positive results.

“1 in 4 people do not know how they were infected,” said Robert Steen, the city’s head of health services.

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Edmund Blair