The government shuts down. And it opens up. Month after month. Each time the reason is the same: the restrictions work so well that they can be dropped. Until the next setback. Now it’s happening again.
OPENS: Prime Minister Erna Solberg during a press conference on the corona situation. Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB
Internal comments: This is a comment. The comment expresses the writer’s attitude.
Tuesday 13 April 2021 – 22:05
Tuesday 13 April 2021 – 22:59
Erna Solberg’s corona strategy is stuck in its inconsistency. Everyone should stumble up and down after the last readings of the nation’s fever thermometer. We are invited to look at the sun and spring while it swings in the restrictions. Now comes the first phase of the nation’s reopening, which was proclaimed a week ago.
Take the check: When do you get vaccinated?
Admittedly, this only applies to the nation minus Oslo, large parts of Eastern Norway and municipalities with a high level of infection. Well over a third of the population still has to settle for a strict life. But there is bad news enough for everyone.
GRADUAL REOPENING: Prime Minister Erna Solberg on the new measures that will apply from 16 April. Video: The government
Johnson & Johnson skulle according to the plan deliver a vaccine that can fully vaccinate around one million Norwegians. Now the company is postponing the rollout in Europe. The reason is uncertainty about dangerous side effects of the same kind that stopped the vaccine from AstraZeneca: Rare blood clots and a low number of platelets.
It can delay the entire vaccination program by eight to twelve weeks. During the presentation at the press conference on Tuesday, this issue was not mentioned by Erna Solberg or the ministers. It was only when asked by the media that the new setback was commented on. This is how the direction is set up when the authorities are to inform us.
It is a step backwards from the openness we have otherwise seen, e.g. when there were deaths that could be linked to the vaccine from AstraZeneca. The postponement, or a possible cancellation, of the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson is no detail when Norway will be reopened.
On the contrary, it can affect the entire vaccination schedule, which is one of three pillars on which the opening is based. The others are infection level and disease situation and the capacity of the hospitals.
It’s pretty modest facilitations contained in the government’s new provisions. Two meters becomes one. There will be an opportunity to pour alcohol for food until 22.00. Cultural and sports events will be equal and students will have easier access to campus.
It could be an opening for top football, which has roughly the same status as national security.
When Erna Solberg bumps up and down, critics will question the mix of criteria on which the government bases its decisions. The medical ones are of course basic, although the interpretation of such data is unclear. On the other hand, little is usually said about the relationship between infection control and consideration for finances and jobs.
The balancing has gone well so far, especially if we compare with a number of other countries. At the same time, the weaknesses in terms of entry and import transmission reveal that the bourgeois government listens carefully to the needs of business.
Now there are new facilitations in this area. The system of labor immigration for specialists and important professionals is being expanded. It is hardly well received by the opposition. Not to mention Oslo City Councilor Raymond Johansen, who has long thundered against the government’s laxity when it comes to import infection.
The rather amputated and gentle reopening is surrounded by many dark clouds. Here are some:
- The USA has put the vaccine from Johnson & Johnson on hold and the company has stopped the launch and distribution in Europe. This vaccine requires only one bite and is important for the pace of vaccination, not least internationally.
- The South African virus has claimed its first casualties in Norway. In Steinkjer, a variant that is probably of the California type has been discovered. It is estimated to be 20 percent more contagious than the first virus variant.
- It is constantly reported that patients in Norwegian nursing homes die or become infected again after they have received the full vaccine dose.
- Although infection rates in Norway have declined somewhat after the Easter restrictions, the level is still high and not under control. New and serious outbreaks are taking place in Steinkjer, Brønnøy and Kristiansand, among other places.
- The infection situation in Sweden has worsened. Since Friday, more than 19,000 people have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease. During the same period, 39 people died. In Germany, Angela Merkel will propose a new law that allows for national provisions on curfews.
- Internationally, the infection is increasing. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.4 million new cases of infection were detected last week, which is an increase of nine percent. The death toll rose by five percent.
Vaccine passports do not give freedom back
Norway is a country with a particularly outgoing economy and great mobility in the population and travel patterns. Therefore, we cannot base the corona strategy solely on domestic conditions. If a new virus variant occurs on the other side of the globe, it will be in Norway after a short time.
The government should be open about the threats to the reopening plan and clearly prepare the population for a setback. The news about Johnsen & Johnsen came on the same day as Erna Solberg launched the first reliefs. It tells us how fragile any plan is.