March 24, 2020 / 3:17 PM / 5 days ago

Norway extends coronavirus curbs until April 13

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway on Tuesday extended curbs on a range of public and private institutions, including the closure of schools and nurseries, until April 13 to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus.

“The measures we have imposed appear to be slowing transmission of the virus, but we need more time to see what effect they are having,” Prime Minister Erna Solberg told a news conference.

The restrictions, which also include refusing entry to foreigners who do not live and work in the Nordic country and forbidding people to go to their mountain cabins if they have one, were initially imposed until March 26.

With the decision, Norway is joining fellow Nordic country Denmark in prolonging the restrictions until after the Easter holiday.

Among new measures, the government also asked that no more than five people gather together outside and that indoors people keep a distance of two metres (6.6 ft) from one another, except for members of the same household.

But the government did not ask Norwegians to confine themselves to their homes as other countries, like France or Spain, have done.

Norwegians love going to mountain cabins at Easter for a last bout of skiing. Solberg’s advice to them was clear: “Get yourself some good games. Pretend you are in your cabin. But stay at home,” she said.

The total number of infected people in Norway rose to 2,566 on Tuesday, up 196 from a day earlier, according to the official count by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Ten people have passed away as a result of the coronavirus.

The government is currently preparing further targeted measures towards sectors and businesses affected by the virus outbreak, Solberg said.

“In this round until the coming Friday, will work on what we called Phase 2 in the economic plan, that is, directed measures for sectors,” she said.

Norway’s unemployment rate has soared five-fold this month to above 10%, its highest level since the 1930s, as companies announced mass layoffs and shutdowns with the tourism and transport sectors noting the biggest jump in unemployment over the past two weeks.

Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Victoria Klesty, editing by Nerijus Adomaitis, Kirsten Donovan, William Maclean

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