Mass brawls reported as pandemic restrictions are lifted in Norway
Dozens of violent disturbances took place in Norway on Sunday amid celebrations that followed the government’s abrupt removal of all COVID-19 restrictions.
On Friday, Norway announced that all restrictions from the pandemic would be lifted as of Saturday. As people gathered in the streets to celebrate, at least 50 fights or disturbances broke out throughout the evening, according to The Associated Press.
Norwegian media said police were called to respond to various incidents, including a man with a machete on a bus in Oslo, the AP reported.
Outgoing Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s announcement lifting restrictions was largely unexpected.
“It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime,” Solberg said during a press conference on Friday, the AP reported. “Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life.”
Despite criticism of the move, Solberg said that Norwegian health experts were not opposed to her decision, according to the AP.
The fast turnaround gave venues like nightclubs little time to prepare for crowds.
“That’s exactly what I predicted would happen,” nightclub manager Johan Hoeeg Haanes said to a Norwegian newspaper, according to the AP. “It was a life-threatening situation in the city because they (government) didn’t give us at least a few days advance notice. This was a dangerous situation, as police said all places were packed.”
Bars, nightclubs and other venues did not require any proof of vaccine or negative test result, per the AP.
The AP noted that over 76 percent of Norwegians have received at least one vaccine dose, and nearly 70 percent have received both doses.