Norway puts reopening on hold as COVID-19 cases rise

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway is halting its planned easing of coronavirus restrictions and will likely reimpose others to prevent a full lockdown of society as experienced earlier this year, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday.

“We need to slow down now to avoid a full stop down the road,” Solberg told reporters.

Earlier, Norway said it will reimpose a 10-day quarantine from Saturday for all travellers from France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in those countries.

It will also reimpose quarantine for people travelling from Monaco and from certain regions in neighbouring Sweden, while lifting quarantine for other regions.

Among the measures put on hold is a plan to permit leisure travel from some non-European countries, which has been banned since March and will remain off-limits until further notice.

Norway will announce further measures on Friday, Solberg said.

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While not a member of the European Union, Norway belongs to the passport-free Schengen travel zone. It had some of the strictest travel restrictions in Europe in the early phase of the pandemic before gradually lifting them from June.

With a population of 5.4 million, Norway has seen an increase in infections in recent days. It had reported a total of 9,409 cases reported as of Thursday, up 12 cases from the day before, with 256 deaths.

Authorities are also discussing whether to update guidelines on the wearing of face masks in crowded spaces.

Norway and other Nordic countries, unlike many other European countries, are for now not recommending people wear them in public spaces.

Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by John Stonestreet, Lisa Shumaker and Frances Kerry