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Brawls in the streets as Norway lifts COVID restrictions after 561 days

Police in Norway reported dozens of disturbances and violent clashes including mass brawls in the Nordic country’s big cities after streets, bars, restaurants and nightclubs were filled with people celebrating the end of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Norwegian government abruptly announced last Friday that most of the remaining coronavirus restrictions would be scrapped and that life in the nation of 5.3 million would return to normal.

The move included the lifting social-distancing rules and capacity limits on businesses, as well as reopening nightclubs.

The unexpected announcement by outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg to drop coronavirus restrictions the next day took many Norwegians by surprise and led to chaotic scenes in the capital, Oslo, and elsewhere in the country.

An ambulance is called once reopening celebrations in Trondheim got out of hand.

An ambulance is called once reopening celebrations in Trondheim got out of hand. Credit:NTB

“It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,” Solberg said on Friday at a news conference. “Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.”

More than 76 per cent of Norway’s population has received one vaccine dose, and nearly 70 per cent had both shots, according to official figures.

Rowdy celebrations by hundreds of citizens across Norway started on Saturday afternoon and lasted until the early hours of Sunday. Police said unrest was reported in several places, including in the southern city of Bergen and the central city of Trondheim, but the situation was the worst in Oslo.

Long lines were seen outside Oslo’s nightclubs, bars and restaurants late Saturday and police registered at least 50 fights and disturbances during the night. Neither vaccination status certificates nor negative test results are required to enter such venues in Norway.

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