Norway to tighten coronavirus restrictions next week, says PM

FILE PHOTO: Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg speaks during a news conference in Oslo, Norway June 26, 2020. Hakon Mosvold Larsen/ NTB Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway will announce stricter measures next week to limit the spread of the coronavirus following a recent increase in the number of cases, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Friday.

“We see that the infection is spreading in many places,” Solberg said.

“This is worrying. Therefore we already now announce that there will be a tightening of national restrictions next week. The measures will be directed towards the areas where the infection is now spreading,” she said.

Though cases are rising and authorities are concerned, the situation in Norway is less dramatic than elsewhere in Europe. The Nordic country has currently the second-lowest level of new infections in Europe, after Estonia.

Its 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants was 36.6 as of Friday, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

There are wide disparities within the country though and authorities are most concerned with the situation in Oslo, where restrictions, such as compulsory wearing of face masks in public transport when social distancing cannot be maintained, are tougher than elsewhere in the country.

The government hopes to be able to start vaccinations in the first half of 2021, Solberg told a news conference.

“Vaccination against COVID-19 will be voluntary but the support for vaccines tends to be high in Norway,” she said.

Reporting by Victoria Klesty and Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche