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Norway begins reopening nurseries after month-long closure due to COVID-19

Norway begins reopening nurseries after month-long closure due to COVID-19

FILE PHOTO: Norway's Education Minister Guri Melby. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Venstre)

OSLO: Norway, which says it has COVID-19 under control, on Monday (Apr 20) started opening up pre-schools after a month-long closure, an AFP correspondent reported.

Authorities have said the reopening was possible because children have been less affected by COVID-19, although some parents have expressed reservations over the decision.

READ: COVID-19: How some countries are preparing to ease their lockdowns

"Going to pre-school is safe," Education Minister Guri Melby has repeated leading up to the reopening.

However, as in neighbouring Denmark, a Facebook group called "My child should not be a guinea pig for COVID-19" has been created and an online petition objecting to the reopening has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures.

According to a poll published by broadcaster NRK over the weekend, 24 per cent of parents did not want to send their children back to pre-school and 13 per cent said they were unsure.

Pre-schools will have to ensure certain health protocols.

In particular, children under the age of three will have to be in groups of three under one adult's supervision. Those between three and six years old can stay in groups of six.

Along with Austria, Denmark and Germany, Norway is among the first countries to start easing restrictions, which were announced on Mar 12.

According to the Norwegian roadmap, physiotherapists and psychologists are also allowed to return to work on Monday, with hairdressers and dermatologists also opening this week.

Younger children in primary schools will start returning to classrooms on Apr 27.

While many shops have been allowed to remain open, bars and most restaurants will continue to keep their doors closed.

Cultural and sporting events will remain banned until at least Jun 15.

The Nordic country, home to some 5.4 million people, has registered 7,068 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 154 deaths.

Over the last few days the country has observed a drop in new admissions of COVID-19 patients to hospitals, and in early April the government announced it considered the outbreak to be "under control."

In addition to the many restrictions and regulations that remain in place, Norwegian authorities are now relying on tracing via an app and widespread testing to contain the epidemic.

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Source: AFP/ic

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