OSLO, March 23 (Reuters) - Norway is introducing new national measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak, including a ban on the public serving of alcohol, and will postpone the introduction of a plan to reopen society, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said on Tuesday.
The government had originally planned to present a plan in late March for the gradual unwinding of its COVID-19 restrictions.
Norway has had some of Europe's lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic early last year, but is now seeing a rapid increase in hospitalisations led by more contagious variants of the virus.
"The situation in Norway is unstable, with rising infection rates in recent weeks," Hoeie told a news conference.
"We're worried by the potential consequences if many people travel and meet others during the Easter holiday," he said.
Norwegian schools are due to go on Easter break from March 27-April 6.
Anyone returning from a holiday abroad will be forced to undergo 10 days of quarantine at a designated hotel, stricter than the current rule that allows holidaymakers to leave quarantine facilities after three days if they test negative.
Norwegians should also begin keeping a two-metre distance to anyone not living in their own household, double the current recommendation, and have no more than two guests at home, Hoeie said.
"We hope these measures will lead to lower rates of infection," Line Vold of Norway's Institute of Public Health said.
Norway hopes to vaccinate significant parts of its adult population between April and July, the government has said.
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