Norway has capped the Global Resilience Index scoring in all categories and is presently doing well at containing the pandemic. The country first recorded its COVID-19 case on 26th February 2020. Over the weeks, the case counts fast-tracked and the government had to put some measures in place. The outbreak caused a state of emergency in the Norwegian economy. The Central Bank declared an unexpected rate cut and pledged to make additional money available to banks due to the closure of public and private institutions in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
There was a month-long nationwide lockdown from mid-March, but was lifted in April allowing ease of restrictions. Norwegians had to stay in the municipalities where they were registered as residents. Some of the restrictive emergency measures are in the process of being relaxed. Kindergartens and schools for young children were closed but are back open however, should any child show any potential symptoms of the coronavirus, they must be kept home. Businesses such as hair salons are now allowed to reopen. Restaurants and pubs which serve food are permitted to stay open but they must practice social distancing. Many shops also have social distancing protocols. Major events in the country are still banned but the ban on smaller events is being relaxed. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has not recommended the use of face masks outside the healthcare service therefore it is not mandatory to wear face masks in public.
Borders have been closed with no indication of reopening and non-citizens are being turned away at the Norwegian border. Norwegian citizens who enter the country undergo mandatory two-week quarantine. The public transport schedule within the country runs as usual, to ensure that people with critical social engagements could get to and from work.
There has been a massive increase in testing capacity, contact tracing and mandatory quarantine. The health service in Norway is fairly decentralized and there are public testing labs in hospitals across the country while some are being run by private providers. Norway is typically prepared to withstand a national crisis but risk analysis established that the pandemic had raised concerns on medicine scarcities. China, which is a key donor of essential medical supplies, was only just starting to resume factory operations and there were fears that these supplies could be exhausted within weeks. Laerdal, a medical equipment company, together with a partner, pledged to provide 1,000 emergency ventilators by the end of May.
A USD 960 billion sovereign wealth fund has been drawn up to aid sectors hard hit by the pandemic. The Norwegian government had also announced a series of economic measures to help staff that has been laid off as well as businesses that were struggling to survive. The government will establish two state-backed loans and guarantee schemes in the total amount of NOK 100 billion to provide liquidity for Norwegian enterprises.
Written by Josephine Nanortey, April 2020.