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Norway: Legal Response to Covid-19

Norway [no]

Eirik Holmøyvik, Benedikte Moltumyr Høgberg, Christoffer Conrad Eriksen

From: Oxford Constitutions (http://oxcon.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 03 December 2023

General editors: Prof. Jeff King; Prof. Octavio Ferraz
Area editors: Dr. Pedro Villarreal; Dr. Andrew Jones; Prof. Alan Bogg; Prof. Nicola Countouris; Prof. Eva Pils; Prof. Nico Steytler; Dr. Elena de Nictolis; Dr. Bryan Thomas; Dr. Michael Veale; Dr. Silvia Suteu; Prof. Colleen Flood; Prof. Cathryn Costello; Dr. Natalie Byrom.

© The several contributors 2021. Some rights reserved. This is an open access publication, available online and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0), a copy of which is available at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/. Enquiries concerning use outside the scope of the licence terms should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press.

Preferred Citation: E Holmøyvik, B Moltumyr Høgberg, CC Eriksen, ‘Norway: Legal Response to Covid-19’, in Jeff King and Octávio LM Ferraz et al (eds), The Oxford Compendium of National Legal Responses to Covid-19 (OUP 2021). doi: 10.1093/law-occ19/e3.013.3

For Parts I–IV, except where the text indicates the contrary, the law is as it stood on: 31 December 2022.

For Parts V–VI, except where the text indicates the contrary, the law is as it stood on: 29 August 2023.

I.  Constitutional Framework

1.  Norway is a unitary, parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Its constitution was adopted on 17 May 1814, making it the second-oldest written constitution still in force. The Parliament is unicameral, consisting of 169 members elected from party lists for four years on the basis of proportional representation in 19 multi-seat constituencies.

2.  According to Article 12 of the Constitution,1 the Monarch formally appoints a Government composed of persons representing one or more parties that are positioned to command the confidence of Parliament. Government formation does not require a vote of confidence (investiture), but the Government or individual ministers are required to resign following a successful vote of no confidence in Parliament. The Norwegian Constitution does not provide the Government with a right to dissolve Parliament.

3.  Law-making is formally the prerogative of Parliament.2 In practice, most statutes are drafted by the Government. Most major statutes have extensive preparatory works prepared by law commissions appointed by the Government and composed of experts and stakeholders. The preparatory works are an important source for the interpretation of statutes. Case law from the Supreme Court, which is a court of precedent, is also an important source of law. The Government can issue provisional statutes in areas of public administration when Parliament is not in session, though this power is rarely used.3 More importantly, the Government is authorised by statutes to issue legally binding regulations (forskrifter) supplementing statutes. In volume, regulations vastly surpass statutes.

4.  The Government is head of the executive branch, organized in a hierarchical structure. As a general rule, Government, acting collectively in the Council of State or acting through its ministers operating within the sphere of their respective ministries, can issue binding instructions to lower-level administrative bodies unless prohibited by law.

5.  The judicial system consists of general courts having full competence in both civil and criminal cases. A very limited number of special courts as well as a large number of independent court-like administrative tribunals also decide cases at first instance, with appeals lying to the general courts.

6.  In addition to the national political and administrative level, there are also administrative bodies and representative assemblies at regional level in the 11 provinces (fylke) and at local level in each of the 356 municipalities (kommune). Local self-government is guaranteed by Article 49 of the Constitution and regulated in the Local Government Act 2018. However, the regional and local governments have only the powers provided to them by statutes. As outlined in Part II below, the Infection Control Act 1994 provides the municipalities with extensive powers in relation to infection control.

7.  The response to the pandemic has not changed the basic constitutional structure of the state. However, certain measures have created tensions in the division of powers between the executive and the legislative branches, detailed in Parts II.B and C, and III.A respectively, as well as between national and local authorities, detailed in Part IV.A.1.

II.  Applicable Legal Framework

A.  Constitutional and international law

8.  The Constitution is the highest source of law, prevailing over statutes and regulations. All courts can review the constitutionality of both laws and administrative decisions in concrete cases.4 Norwegian courts are quite deferential on the constitutionality of legislation compared to most specialized constitutional courts but are far more active than their Nordic counterparts.5 As a general rule, judicial review of legislation will be more intense concerning human rights than issues concerning the separation of powers.6 Norway is not a member of the European Union (EU) but associated with the EU through a number of agreements, notably as a member of both the European Economic Area (EEA) and the Schengen Area, 7 incorporating the relevant parts of EU law (the acquis) into Norwegian law. With respect to international law, the Norwegian legal system is formally a dualist system, but legislation as well as interpretative principles allow international law to influence Norwegian law pervasively, including on the interpretation of the Constitution.8

9.  There has been no decision to derogate from the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), nor from any other international convention. The Constitution does not formally permit derogation from any of its provisions. All measures to control the pandemic interfering with basic rights protected by the Constitution and the ECHR must be prescribed by law, have a legitimate aim, and be proportionate to the aim pursued.9

10.  There is no formal constitutional procedure for declaring a national state of emergency and no such concept exists in Norwegian law. Public emergencies are regulated by a set of laws pertaining to specific situations, including public health emergencies, detailed in Part II.B below.

11.  The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Health Regulations (IHR) are implemented through the 2007 IHR regulation pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994.10 This regulation complements the Infection Control Act 1994, the Health Preparedness Act 2000, and the Public Health Act 2011, so that they jointly fulfil the IHR obligations. The regulation establishes the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet) (NIPH) as national contact point to convey WHO recommendations. The NIPH referred to the WHO and IHR when it advised against mandatory quarantine for entry into Norway in relation to the extensive public health measures on 12 and 15 March 2020, detailed in Part IV.A below.11 The WHO’s declaration of 11 March 2020 of Covid-19 as a pandemic has been cited by both the Norwegian Directorate of Health (Helsedirektoratet) in the aforementioned decisions of 12 and 15 March 2020,12 as well as by the Government in relation to measures taken against Covid-19.13 The Norwegian Government has also expressed strong public support for the WHO in its leadership of the effort to defeat the pandemic.14 At the EU level, Norway also participates in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control,15 and the NIPH is Norway’s Coordinating Competent Body.

B.  Statutory provisions

12.  The primary public health measures have relied mainly on legislation that predated the pandemic: The Infection Control Act 1994 and the Health Preparedness Act 2000. The Infection Control Act 1994 was last updated in 2019 prior to the pandemic, and also through an amendment of 23 June 2020 (section 4-3a) during the pandemic. The 1994 Act confers vast powers on the Government to enact public health regulations and measures for controlling the spread of infectious diseases in Norway, as well as on local officials to adopt further local measures. Most of the public health measures taken against the outbreak of Covid-19 were made according to the 1994 Act, including the closing of schools, private and public institutions, movement restrictions (section 4-1), and quarantine regulations (section 4-3). The Health Preparedness Act 2000 confers powers on the Government to organize health professionals and institutions in case of a national health emergency.

13.  As for new pandemic specific legislation, the Corona Act 2020 delegated legislative powers to the Government, namely the authority to make regulations that supplement or deviate from 62 statutes listed in the Act.16 The purpose of this Act was to allow the Government to make rapid amendments to existing regulations in order to manage the economic and social effects of the infection control measures. The Corona Act 2020 came into force on 27 March 2020. Though subject to a one-month sunset clause, it was extended by Parliament on 27 April 2020 and expired on 27 May 2020.

14.  Neither the Infection Control Act 1994 nor the Corona Act 2020 contained a specific procedure for declaring a public health emergency. However, the Health Preparedness Act 2000 requires the Government to declare a public health emergency for one month at a time (section 1-5). Nevertheless, its effects are limited to the health sector only. The Government declared a public health emergency under the 2000 Act for the first time during the pandemic on 6 March 2020, under which the Ministry of Health and Care Services and the Directorate of Health were given the powers of requisition of health equipment (section 3-1), as well as the power to order health professionals to remain on duty (section 4-1) and to relocate them (sections 5-1 and 5-2).

15.  The Corona Act 2020 was fast-tracked and incited public debate, but was adopted unanimously by Parliament. The Government presented a draft to Parliament on 18 March 2020. Parliament negotiated with the Government for three days and invited a few institutions and legal scholars to assess the draft proposal. The hearings and the negotiations resulted in strengthened parliamentary scrutiny and judicial control as well as a more limited scope and time-frame for the Government’s powers. The Act passed the first reading on 21 March and the second on 24 March and was enacted on 27 March 2020.

16.  After the Corona Act 2020 expired on 27 May 2020, infection control measures have been based on the Infection Control Act 1994 and the Health Preparedness Act 2000. On 23 June, Parliament amended the 1994 Act, authorising the Government to make regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (section 4-3a), by restricting the right to free movement (section 106 of the Constitution), and by isolating people both confirmed and suspected of being infected with Covid-19.

17.  In addition to these three statutes, a large amount of legislation was passed by Parliament in 2020 to manage the economic, administrative, and social effects of the pandemic and adopt the measures to contain it. These statutes were temporary, and included acts regulating schools and nurseries, financial aid, use of audio and video in courts, etc (see Parts IV and V below).

C.  Executive rule-making powers

18.  An important part of all Norwegian legislation is found in regulations (forskrifter) adopted by the Government in the Council of State by royal decree, by individual ministers, or, less commonly, by Government agencies, and which have the force of law upon being made. The power to adopt regulations is conferred on the Government by statute.

19.  As of 31 December 2022, at least 458 Covid-19 related regulations had been adopted at the national level either in the form of new regulations, amendment to these or in the form of amendments to existing non-pandemic specific regulations.17 At the local level, 920 local regulations on Covid-19 had been adopted between 11 March and 25 January 2022.

20.  Regulations are subject to certain constitutional limitations: they cannot conflict with higher norms, such as primary legislation and the constitution. Due to the constitutional legality principle, regulations can only supplement or specify coercive measures and criminal offences provided by statute.18 Regulations are also subject to procedural requirements set out in the Public Administration Act 1967, including rules on hearings and notification of affected parties.

21.  In relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has to a large extent relied on regulations to implement public health measures. The Infection Control Act 1994 provides a statutory basis for imposing infection control measures. such as restrictions on movement and social gatherings, the closing of public and private institutions, isolation, and quarantine. The specific criteria for imposing such measures have been set in regulations and amended in accordance with changes in the pandemic situation. The most important regulation on specific measures to control the pandemic, the Covid-19 regulation of 27 March 2020, was amended 251 times until 21 September 2022.19

22.  In relation to serious communicable diseases, the existing legislation provided the Government with extended regulatory powers before the Covid-19 pandemic. Section 7-12 of the Infection Control Act 1994 and section 6-2 of the Health Preparedness Act 2000 authorise the Government to adopt regulations that derogate from existing statutes, if necessary to safeguard public health. In relation to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government has adopted several regulations pursuant to section 7-12 of the Infection Control Act 1994, including the controversial ban on residence in leisure homes, detailed in Part IV.A.1 below.

23.  All pandemic-specific regulations and amendments to existing regulations have been temporary. Most are limited in time by being legally limited to the duration of the Covid-19 situation,20 while others include sunset clauses, typically with a duration of six months,21 but in some cases up to one year.22 The Corona Act 2020 expressly required regulations to be temporary and to expire automatically with the expiration of the statute, which was limited to one month.23 A number of these regulations were subsequently extended by Parliament as temporary statutes. Derogations from existing legislation according to section 6-2 of the Health Preparedness Act 2000 are also limited to one month.

24.  There has been limited parliamentary scrutiny and judicial review of the regulations adopted pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994, detailed in Part III.A and C below.

D.  Guidance

25.  Official guidance to the public and public authorities is gathered on several websites, published by the Government itself, the Directorate for e-health (Direktoratet for e-helse), the Norwegian Directorate of Health, and the NIPH.

26.  Legal rules enacted to control infection are binding and violations may be subject to fines or criminal charges, whereas guidance to the public is advisory. Directives given to public authorities are binding within the limits of the law. Guidance is used extensively to supplement legal rules, and to affect behaviour by resort to soft recommendations instead of using hard law. On occasion, the latter can follow an ineffective attempt to use the former to address problematic behaviour. One example concerned the attempt to prevent people from staying in their leisure homes located outside their home municipality. The Prime Minister first attempted a soft approach on 14 March 2020, recommending all owners of leisure homes to go back to their main home and stay there.24 The following day the Government adopted a regulation authorising the Ministry to enact a ban if necessary, and called on people to voluntarily return to their homes immediately.25 Since a number of people did not return, a ban was introduced as hard law on 19 March 2020.26

27.  While the Government has kept the formal distinction between law and guidance clear in its written communications, the media have often failed to communicate this distinction. Moreover, during the press briefings, ministers have contributed to the confusion between hard law and non-legally binding guidance.

28.  In the early phase of the pandemic, polls showed that most people had either received or read official information about it and knew how to protect against the infection.27 However, there are examples throughout the pandemic of Government guidance being ambiguous, not least because there are four different websites publishing official guidance as well as examples of contradictory advice from national and local authorities.

III.  Institutions and Oversight

A.  The role of legislatures in supervising the executive

29.  The Norwegian Parliament engages in scrutiny of the Government’s performance chiefly through the normal parliamentary scrutiny system. This includes the weekly Question Time with Government ministers, written questions and interpellations addressed to ministers, debate on Covid-19-related bills presented by the Government, and through the functioning of various standing committees. All of these instruments have been actively used by opposition parties to scrutinize the Government’s response to Covid-19.

30.  In addition to its ordinary ex post scrutiny role, Parliament has adopted numerous resolutions requiring the Government to adopt specific measures throughout the pandemic, most of which address the economic and social effects of the infection control measures.28 For example, on 16 March 2020, Parliament adopted 14 resolutions asking the Government for specific budgetary and fiscal measures to ease the economic effects of the public health measures imposed four days earlier. In the Norwegian parliamentary system, resolutions are considered politically binding for a minority government, which is required to present an annual report on their followup.29

31.  The Corona Act 2020, detailed in Part II.B above, established a specific regime for parliamentary scrutiny of regulations adopted under that statute. To mitigate the exceptionally broad powers of the Government to derogate from existing statutes, section 5 of the Corona Act 2020 allowed one third of the members of parliament to veto a Government regulation or parts of it. To render the minority veto effective, the Act required the entry into force of regulations to be delayed until one day after Parliament had received written notification of the issuance of the regulation.30 Members of parliament were also allowed to oppose a regulation by simple written notification instead of a vote in the plenary. These legislative measures allowed Parliament to exercise scrutiny of regulations before they came into force, which probably lowered the political threshold for intervening in Government measures. During the two months the Corona Act 2020 was in force, out of a total of 32 regulations adopted, five regulations amending education legislation were partially suspended by Parliament applying the minority veto.31

32.  There is no general requirement in Norwegian law for Government regulations to be confirmed or renewed by Parliament. Parliament can at any time terminate the regulation-making powers of the Government by a legislative act, but this is rare and there are not any examples in relation to the pandemic. However, a specific scheme for parliamentary scrutiny is established in section 7-12 of the Infection Control Act 1994, detailed in Part II.C.22 above, which also allows the Government to derogate from existing legislation, including by extending the scope of its own powers. For such section 7-12 regulations derogating from legislation, the Government must immediately notify Parliament, and convene it if not in session, as well as putting before Parliament the regulation as a legislative bill within 30 days. The procedural requirements follow from Infection Control Act 1994, sections 3 and 4, which refers to the procedure concerning derogations in times of war in the Act Relating to Special Measures in Time of War, Threat of War, and Similar Circumstances 1950. Between 27 March and 27 May 2020, this notification requirement was suspended by the Corona Act 2020,32 and no Covid-19-related regulation has been put before Parliament pursuant to section 7-12 of the Infection Control Act 1994.

33.  The scope and content of the Government’s regulatory powers were discussed in Parliament at different stages of the pandemic. In relation to the adoption of the Corona Act 2020, the Government’s draft law drew strong public and political criticism for conferring on the Government excessively vast and unrestrained regulatory powers.33 As a result, Parliament limited the scope of the Government’s powers and embedded stronger parliamentary control with regard to regulations derogating from existing legislation.34 While Parliament passed the Act unanimously on 24 March 2020, a significant minority of three parties voted against extending the Act for another month on 21 April.35 Concerns over the Government’s vast powers to impose intrusive measures according to the Infection Control Act 1994 along with the limited parliamentary scrutiny of such measures, prompted Parliament to adopt a resolution on 17 November 2020 asking the government to revise the Act.36 However, citing concerns for amending the legislative framework during the pandemic, the majority called on the Government to await revision of the Act until the Coronavirus Commission appointed by the Government, as detailed in Part III.G below, has published its evaluation of the Covid-19 measures.

34.  On 18 January 2022, the Standing Committee on Scrutiny and Constitutional Affairs opened an inquiry on the accountability of the Government following a decision on 13 December 2021 to place high schools on the highest risk level, leading to the closure of many schools (see Part VI.G below).37 The Committee questioned the legality of this decision, as it appeared to run counter to scientific advice. According to section 1-5 of the Infection Control Act 1994, measures must be based on clear medical advice. On 22 March 2022, the Committee decided to cease the inquiry. According to the media, the inquiry was ceased after the Government agreed to set up an independent inquiry,38 which it did soon after (see Part III.G below).

B.  The functioning of the legislature where its ordinary business is disrupted

35.  The Norwegian Parliament operated more or less as normal in its legislative and scrutiny function throughout the pandemic. At no point did the Parliament suspend its operations, though the committees’ activities were limited for about a month after the public health measures of 12 March 2020.

36.  Passage of legislation was not suspended during the period of extensive public health measures from 12 March. Even though Parliament on 27 March transferred vast regulatory powers to the Government with the Corona Act 2020, Parliament adopted 36 laws during the two-month period the Act was in force, 17 of which were Covid-19 related.

37.  The key decisions concerning the operations of Parliament during the pandemic have been taken by the Presidium in concert with the political party groups.39 The Presidium is composed of six members, elected proportionally according to the size of the party groups, and chaired by the President of the Parliament. None of the measures appear to have been controversial.

38.  Before and shortly after the introduction of public health measures on 12 March 2020, the Presidium adopted a number of measures to protect the Parliament against the pandemic while maintaining its ‘core activity’:

  • •  On 5 March, international travels on behalf of the Parliament were suspended.40

  • •  On 11 March, all domestic travel by committees was suspended, Parliament was closed for public visits, public access to parliamentary debates was limited and later suspended until mid-April, and committee hearings were conducted by written procedure or video conference.41

  • •  On 12 March, the day of public health measures, the Presidium decided after consulting with the leaders of the parliamentary party groups42 that the Parliament would only deal with urgent issues until the end of April.43 During much of this period, the parliamentary committees considered only pandemic-related cases. From mid-April, the Parliament resumed normal operation, dealing with both pandemic-related and other business. Oral debates with ministers resumed in late April-early May.

  • •  On 12 March, Parliament also temporarily amended its Rules of Procedure to allow for committee meetings and voting in committees to be held by video conference.44

  • •  On 16 March, Parliament suspended the normal 10 April deadline for considering government propositions for adoption in the Spring session in order to allow for pandemic-related legislative and budgetary measures.45

  • •  To deal with urgent matters relating to the pandemic, a Special Coronavirus Committee was set up on 16 March 2020.46 The Committee consists of the President of the Parliament and the leaders of each of the nine parliamentary party groups. This committee prepared the Corona Act 2020.

  • •  Unless otherwise stated, all of the above measures are still in force as of 10 January 2021.47

39.  As for voting, on 14 May 2020, the Presidium recommended to the party groups that only 87 out of 169 members, which is the quorum requirement,48 would attend plenary meetings and voting, maintaining their proportional representation.49 As of 12 November, Parliament still conducts plenary sessions, voting with the minimum quorum requirement. This arrangement was also extended to four constitutional amendments on 14 May, which were adopted with the minimum constitutional quorum of two-thirds of the members of Parliament present. However, with respect to the 26 May amendments to the Biotechnology Act 2003, which concerned controversial issues such as egg donation, assisted insemination, and surrogacy, the eight members of the Christian Democrats (Krf) forced a full plenary by declaring that all of their members would attend the vote. In order to comply with infection control measures, glass partitions had to be installed between the seats, to the total cost of NOK 225,000 (EUR 22,800) and criticism from other party groups.50

C.  Role of and access to courts

40.  The pandemic and the measures taken to control it had immediate and significant consequences for proceedings before the courts. In the weeks following the public health measures on 12 March 2020, up to 90 per cent of all court proceedings were postponed.51 The Norwegian member of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice stated: ‘I believe it is fair to say that the efficiency of the Norwegian courts has been hurt badly so far during the pandemic.’52 The initial severe delays in court proceedings may have been exacerbated by Norwegian procedural law, according to which courts are heavily reliant on oral proceedings, not only in criminal cases, but also in civil cases, including administrative cases.53

41.  On 27 March 2020, the Government adopted by virtue of the Corona Act 2020 a temporary regulation on ‘simplifications and measures within the justice sector to remedy consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19’.54 This regulation allowed the courts to hold remote hearings if doing so was necessary and unproblematic (ubetenkelig). According to this regulation, the court should hear the views of the parties before deciding to hold remote hearings. In criminal cases, the court must take into account whether remote hearings would be justifiable given the specific characteristics of each case and the rights of the accused. The court would also be required to provide the accused with access to confidential communication with their counsel. The regulation also allowed for increased use of written proceedings in cases of prolonged custody, restraining orders, and upholding the revocation of drivers’ licences, as well as in appeals proceedings not involving the assessment of evidence in criminal cases. Furthermore, the regulation authorised the use of electronic signatures and video conference for the members of the courts.

42.  The requirements for the use of remote hearings were subsequently clarified by the Supreme Court. In a decision of 8 May 2020, the Appeals Selection Committee of the Supreme Court held that Article 5(3) of the ECHR and Article 94 of the Constitution prohibited remote hearings for the initial decision to remand a person into custody.55 Moreover, the Supreme Court gave the temporary regulation a narrow reading and found that it did not allow courts to decide remote hearings simply by reference to the need for general infection control. Instead, courts were required to justify the use of remote hearings by reference to the individual circumstances pertaining to each case.

43.  Additional measures related to courts were introduced on 26 May 2020 by a temporary law on ‘adaptations to procedural regulations due to the outbreak of Covid-19’.56 The measures included written procedure for specific cases, expansion of the cases where the accused can plead guilty for a simplified criminal procedure, simplified rules for the selection of lay judges, rules on remote pronouncement of documents, and the transfer of cases between courts on the same level. Similar measures were introduced for the County Social Welfare Boards.

44.  Practical measures to overcome the effects of infection control measures in courts include a guide for infection control in courts published on 28 April 2020,57 and the allocation in May of NOK 62 million for the acquisition of technical equipment, as well as funding for additional judges and prosecutors to prevent delays in court proceedings.58

45.  Despite the infection control measures introduced in mid-March 2020, and initial reports of delays, statistics for the first half of 2020 show no significant delay in case processing time by courts of first instance and appeal courts, and only a minor reduction in cases decided by courts of first instance.59 The Norwegian Court Administration reported in June that delays in court proceedings occurred until around 1 May 2020, after which the capacity of the judicial system began to normalise.60 It appears then, that the courts managed to overcome the initial disruption by their own means and possibly by means of the allocation of new technical equipment and personnel.

46.  It was unclear whether some of these measures were compatible with fundamental rights guaranteed by the ECHR and the Constitution. Both instruments provide the right to a ‘public hearing within a reasonable time’ (Article 6 ECHR, section 95 Constitution) and impose strict temporal and procedural requirements on decisions to remand a person into custody (Article 5 ECHR, section 94 Constitution). While the courts appear to have maintained a minimum operation to fulfil their obligations in regard to custody cases and other serious interferences in rights and freedoms, the use of remote hearings by videoconference might in some cases have effectively suspended the right to a public hearing since the aforementioned temporary law of 26 May 2020 did not require a video link to the proceedings be made available to the public.61 The aforementioned ruling of the Supreme Court also shows that courts were too quick to resort to remote hearings without a proper necessity assessment.

47.  As for access to courts, the pandemic revealed a lack of centralised coordination in the partial shutdown and subsequent reopening of the courts. The return to normalcy varied from court to court, dependent on the assessment of each court president.62 In one case in mid-April 2020, when other courts had resumed normal operation, the president of one court of appeal unilaterally decided to close the court for the remainder of the month due to reports of Covid-19 infections during proceedings in another court.63 The uncoordinated response of Norwegian courts to the pandemic was partly due to systemic features of the legal framework for the Norwegian judicial system, which has no independent body that can issue binding instructions to the courts. The Norwegian Court Administration is a government agency, that is barred from interfering with the exercise of judicial power by virtue of the principle of the independence of the judiciary. While the Court Administration had already, on 12 March 2020, issued a recommendation to courts to reduce operations due to concerns about Covid-19 infection, the decision to reduce and resume operations was left to the court presidents, and recommendations were not always followed.64 The uncertainties regarding access to court were addressed in the aforementioned temporary law of 26 May 2020, which allows for the transfer of one or more cases from one court to another court on the same level at the request of the court president or, if the court in question was ‘out of operation’, by a decision of a higher court.

48.  Norwegian courts of all levels can review and strike down any administrative decision or regulation for going beyond the statutory limitations (principle of legality), for violating norms both in the Constitution as well as in human rights treaties incorporated in the Human Rights Act 1999, most notably the ECHR. Considering the scope and duration of measures against the whole population, courts played a very limited role in reviewing the legality and proportionality of the measures (details are outlined in Part VI.A below).

49.  For certain coercive measures related to infection control, such as compulsory medical examination and isolation of individuals, section 7-5 of the Infection Control Act 1994 requires the consent of the County Social Welfare Board, which is an independent tribunal. Its decisions can be appealed to the ordinary courts. No such decisions were taken during the Covid-19 pandemic at time of writing, since measures were introduced by general regulations rather than decisions directed at individuals.

D.  Elections

50.  Parliamentary elections were held during the pandemic in September 2021. In preparation for the elections, the election authorities were concerned that a large increase in infections during the early voting period and on election day would affect the election result. Article 54 of the Norwegian Constitution requires the election to be completed before October. The Ministry ordered an independent legal assessment of whether the pandemic qualified for derogation according to unwritten rules on constitutional emergencies. The legal assessment concluded that the criteria for derogation was not fulfilled, since the Election Act 2002 could be adapted to accommodate infection control measures and since pre-voting is possible from July in an election year.65 The Parliament consequently adopted temporary amendments to the Election Act 2002 in order to provide the election authorities with some flexibility in voting procedures and locations, in order to accommodate possible infection control measures.66 The 2021 election went smoothly with a turnout of 77.2%, which is comparable to previous elections.

E.  Scientific Advice

51.  Scientific advice in relation to pandemics is regulated by the Infection Control Act 1994. According to section 7-9 of that Act, the NIPH shall monitor both the national and international epidemiological situation, conduct health analyses, conduct research on infection control, and ensure necessary vaccine supplies and preparedness. This body of public health experts is responsible for scientific advice and guidance in infection control for both national and municipal institutions, health professionals, and the general public.

52.  The NIPH is placed directly under the Ministry of Health and Public Services and is not formally independent of the Government. However, the NIPH is de facto independent in its scientific work and advice.67 There is no statutory requirement for the NIPH’s advice to be published, but in accordance with its de facto independent function, the NIPH has regularly published reports, risk assessments, and guidance on Covid-19 independently of and sometimes contrary to the advice of Government.68

53.  Section 7-10 of the Infection Control Act 1994 expressly requires the Directorate of Health, which is an executive agency and professional authority under the Ministry of Health and Care Services and responsible for national infection control measures, to base its assessments on scientific advice from the NIPH. However, the scientific advice of the NIPH is binding for neither the Directorate of Health, the Government, nor the municipalities. On several occasions, for example the decision to close schools as part of the public health measures strategy, the Government and the Directorate of Health have adopted measures which did not fully conform with the scientific advice of the NIPH.69 In one instance, in December 2021, the Government introduced strict measures for high schools contrary to scientific advice (detailed in Part III.A above).

54.  Before the pandemic in 2019, the Ministry of Health and Care Services established the Committee for preparedness against biological incidents (Beredskapsutvalget for biologiske hendelser). The Committee’s task is to co-ordinate the national response to biological incidents, including pandemics. The Committee is chaired by the Director of the Directorate of Health and consists of representatives from government agencies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Armed Forces. The Committee held its first meeting on 3 February 2020 in preparation for Covid-19 and recommended to persons in positions critical to society to work from home for 14 days after their entry into Norway.70 Being a body organized within the executive for internal co-ordination, the Committee has no statutory basis, and its operations are not transparent.

F.  Freedom of the press and freedom of information

55.  There is no indication of any restrictions on the press during the pandemic. However, one incident has been discussed in the press and in social media. On 27 October 2020, the Minister of Health in a heated debate on public television argued that the host should not ask him questions as to whether the Government’s regulations on face coverings complied with scientific advice.71 Also, citing freedom of expression, the Government and the police did not intervene in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations held in the cities of Oslo, Bergen, and Kristiansand on 5 June 2020, gathering thousands of people, even though pandemic regulations at the time did not permit gatherings of more than 50 people.72 Other demonstrations were allowed throughout the country during the pandemic.

56.  The compliance with freedom of information laws by public authorities was continuously discussed since the introduction of the first infection control measures in March 2020. On 3 April 2020, the Government introduced general guidance to public authorities managing access to public documents on Covid-19.73 The main purpose of the guidance is to ensure the right of access to information, however, press organizations have expressed concerns that access to information is supposed to be decided by the Ministry that owns the document in each particular case.74 Another concern was the lack of public hearings related to the review of temporary Covid-19 related statutes and regulations. To some extent, and in particular for social and economic measures pursuant to the Corona Act 2020, the Government had sent draft regulations on public hearings either 24 or 48 hours before their adoption.75 However, no hearings were held for regulations pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994, which contains the most intrusive public health measures (detailed in Part IV.A below).

G.  Ombuds and oversight bodies

57.  The Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration is appointed by Parliament to safeguard the rights of individual citizens in their dealings with the public administration. The Ombudsman has not undertaken any general accountability investigations for pandemic-related policy so far. In Norway, the Ombud is also charged with monitoring and investigating abuses of the rights of people deprived of their liberty under the 2002 Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT). Acting under the OPCAT mandate, in June 2020 the Parliamentary Ombud conducted a thorough review of infection control measures imposed on prison inmates during the Covid-19 pandemic (see Part VI.H below).76

58.  On 24 April 2020, the Government appointed an independent commission to evaluate all aspects of the authorities’ management of the Covid-19 pandemic.77 The so-called ‘Coronavirus commission’ presented its first report on 14 April 2021. The 445-page report had 17 main findings, considering the authorities’ management to be generally good, but also criticising the lack of preparedness, measures contrary to legal and constitutional requirements, and stating that the Infection Control Act 1994 should be revised after the pandemic. The Commission presented its second report on 26 April 2022.78 The 458-page report also concluded that the management of the pandemic including the vaccination program was generally good, but again criticised the lack of preparedness and the rushed rapidly changing measures. In April 2022, the Government appointed a third independent commission to evaluate the management of the pandemic from 1 November 2021 to its end. This commission is set to publish its report in May 2023.

IV.  Public Health Measures, Enforcement and Compliance

A.  Public health measures

59.  Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the public health measures adopted in Norway have combined hard and soft regulatory techniques. In a press briefing on 12 March 2020 the Norwegian Prime Minister characterized the measures then enacted as ‘the most sweeping measures Norway has seen in peacetime’.79 At that point a number of specific measures were enacted closing kindergartens, schools, universities, prohibiting public gatherings, imposing strict restriction on travel, and measures requiring quarantine and isolation. Pursuant to section 4-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994, the measures on 12 March were enacted by the Norwegian Directorate of Health, not the Ministry of Health and Care Services nor the Government, through a decision of the Council of State. However, the Directorate acted in close cooperation with the Ministry and the Government, and both the Ministry and the local municipalities have supplemented the measures enacted by the Directorate in regulations, detailed in Part II.C.19 above.

60.  We have divided the public health measures enacted from the outbreak of the pandemic up until 31 December 2022 into five phases. The first phase runs from 12 March 2020 until the revocation of several measures on 12 June 2020. The second phase runs from early autumn 2020 until January 2021, a period in which many of the outbreaks as well as the measures were local. The third phase, from 3 January 2021, started as the Prime Minister of Norway again announced the adoption of new national measures by the central authorities. These measures were gradually eased from 27 May 2021. The fourth phase started in early September 2021, with a number of local outbreaks leading to increased local measures. Finally, the fifth phase lasted from December 2021 until 13 January 2022, when the Government introduced strict national measures to combat the Omicron variant of the virus.

61.  In Norway, the Infection Control Act 1994 provides both the Government and the municipalities with wide powers to enact public health measures. As a unitary state without any federal structures, Norway’s 356 municipalities are however provided with limited powers, and their use of those powers are subject to extensive control by the state, including in the area of infection control. On the central level, the Infection Control Act 1994 allows the delegation of certain powers to the Ministry of Health and Care Services. Delegations are to be decided by the Council of State with royal approbation, limited in time solely by the decision of the Council. The powers of the Council of State under section 7-12 of the Infection Control Act, detailed in Part II.C.22 above, were delegated to the Ministry on 27 February 2020. 80 Moreover, section 4-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994 authorises a subordinate administrative body staffed and led by professionals—the Directorate of Health—to enact national public health measures. In fact, the set of public health measures of 12 March 2020 were adopted by the Directorate of Health acting under the section 4-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994, without formal involvement of the Government, which is accountable to Parliament. However, such acts of delegation may violate a constitutional rule requiring the Government to decide all matters of importance in the Council of State with royal approbation and, thus, subject to parliamentary scrutiny.81 While the distribution of authority under the Infection Control Act 1994 to the different levels—the Council of State, the Ministry, the Directorate, and the municipalities—may overlap, there are no provisions authorising municipalities to lift regulations imposed by the central government and its administration. The authority provided to the municipalities may however be used to supplement regulations imposed by the central level.

62.  Part IV.A (paras 1–10) below covers public health measures enacted by authorities, both at the national and local level. As there are striking differences between the largest and smallest municipalities in Norway in terms of population—ranging from 693.494 inhabitants in Oslo municipality to 292 in Utsira municipality—there are also significant differences between the measures enacted at the municipal level. A list of all major national responses to the coronavirus is published on the government website.82 Similar lists are published by the municipalities of Oslo and Bergen.83

1.  Individual mobility restrictions on citizens (stay-at-home, curfews, etc)

63.  In the first phase of public health measures, from 12 March 2020 to 12 June 2020, general mobility restrictions on citizens such as stay at home and curfew orders were not imposed in Norway. One significant part of the Norwegian government’s communication strategy was to mobilise a national dugnad, a specific Norwegian social norm of solidarity, appealing to everyone to follow official guidance and work from home, if possible.84

64.  In addition, on 19 March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Care Services prohibited overnight stays in leisure homes located in municipalities other than the registered home residence of an individual.85 The prohibition was enacted as a ministerial regulation, under sections 7-17 and 4-3 of the Infection Control Act 1994.86 The prohibition was justified on the basis that there is insufficient health service capacity in small municipalities with many leisure homes. The prohibition was lifted on 20 April 2020 and is still one of the most controversial measures introduced during the pandemic, due to the specific cultural significance of leisure homes in Norway. Both its legality and utility were publicly questioned.87

65.  Legal measures and recommendations were gradually relaxed from 7 April 2020, and the Ministry of Health and Care Services revoked a number of the specific measures on 12 June 2020, including measures closing universities and technical schools.88

66.  While the general restrictions imposed by the Government and the Directorate are subject to judicial review, there are only a few cases in which such review was exercised in practice (detailed in Part VI.A above).

67.  In addition to central regulations, local regulations have been enacted which have also affected the general mobility of citizens. Several municipalities introduced specific quarantine rules, aiming in particular to protect municipalities in the North from the large number of infections of Covid-19 in the South. For example, the municipality of Bardu (in the Northern part of Norway) introduced quarantine rules for everyone staying or planning to stay within the municipality, and who have stayed for more than 24 hours outside the region where the municipality is located (Nordland).89 Nevertheless, within a few days, the County Governor in Troms and Finnmark county annulled the local regulation as it was not justified on medical grounds.90 According to the County Governor, the municipality had failed to give sufficiently precise grounds for the strict rule. However, other local quarantine rules remained in force and became a source of controversy between local authorities and the national authorities.91

68.  While many public health measures had been revoked by mid-June 2020, measures were again adopted in autumn 2020 due to increasing infection rates of Covid-19. These second phase measures were primarily on the local level, by the municipalities in close cooperation with the central authorities. One example is the situation in the municipality of Oslo, where the Norwegian Directorate of Health and the NIPH issued a letter including detailed assessment and advice on which measures to adopt in order to keep control.92 Moreover, in early January 2021, the public health measures entered a new phase. Under section 4-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994, the Ministry adopted new measures including limiting private gatherings outside the home and prohibiting all restaurants, bars, and cafés from serving alcohol. At the same time, the Government issued a recommendation to avoid visits in the home, to work from home, and to avoid all unnecessary travel in Norway and abroad. On 9 December 2021, due to the spread of the Omicron variant, the Government made it mandatory for employers to allow for home working if practically feasible.

69.  At the local level, the largest municipality, Oslo, introduced stricter regulations throughout the pandemic, obliging both employers and employees to work from home as much as possible.

2.  Restrictions on international and internal travel

70.  Restrictions on international travel were imposed by several regulations enacted in March 2020. On 12 March, the Directorate of Health enacted a regulation pursuant to the Health Preparedness Act 2000 prohibiting all medical personnel working with patients to travel abroad. The prohibition applied both to work-related and private travel.93 On 13 March, the Government enacted a regulation imposing a 14-day quarantine on persons arriving in Norway from countries other than Sweden or Finland pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994.94 The regulation also applied to persons who arrived in Norway from Sweden or Finland following a stay in other countries during the previous 14 days. Moreover, on 15 March 2020, the Government enacted a regulation prohibiting all foreigners without a residence permit from entering the country.95 Both regulations were amended several times, before they were repealed on 27 March and replaced by a general regulation on Covid-19 measures (the Covid-19 regulation).96

71.  Since 15 July 2020, the Covid-19 regulation included particular arrangements for citizens from the EU, Schengen, and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries.97 The Norwegian regulations were not identical to Council Recommendation (EU) 2020/1475 of 13 October 2020 on a coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.98 However, there are similarities between the Norwegian regulations and the EU recommendation. In line with the recommendation, the Norwegian regulations applies different rules to different regions within the EU, Schengen, and EFTA countries depending on the cumulative Covid-19 case notification rate.99 The Covid-19 regulation determines that exceptional rules apply to areas where necessary test rates are missing, or the test rates are less than 300 per 100,000 persons, or otherwise where new cases exceed 150 per 100,000 over the last 14 days, or new cases are 50 or more per 100,000 persons if 4% or more are having positive tests.100 On 29 January 2021, following the tightening of measures in Norway, the Government repealed the exceptions for EEA (EU) citizens to the effect that only EEA (EU) citizens residing in Norway were exempt from the entry ban.101 This amendment led to hundreds of EEA (EU) citizens with residence in Norway being denied entry following a trip abroad. For residents the entry ban was lifted on 21 May 2021, while for non-resident EEA (EU) citizens, the restrictions were gradually eased and finally lifted on 25 September 2021.

72.  There have been no laws restraining internal travel within Norway, other than those referred to in Part IV.A.1 above pertaining to the ban on overnight stays at leisure homes and particular quarantine rules enacted by municipalities.

3.  Limitations on public and private gatherings and events

73.  The Directorate of Health prohibited public gatherings of more than 500 participants on 11 March 2020.102 The next day, all cultural and sport events were prohibited in the aforementioned public health measures decision on 12 March 2020.103 At that time, the prohibition was legally binding until 26 March 2020, but was prolonged along with other measures until 7 May 2020. From this date, the Government allowed for gatherings and events of up to 50 participants. From 15 June 2020 the Government allowed for gatherings and events of 200 participants.

74.  On 5 November 2020, new and stricter national measures were enacted, effective from 9 November. According to the new measures, private gatherings and events within the household were limited to 20 people, but up to 50 people were allowed at indoor events without fixed seats. At events where everyone in the audience could sit in fixed seats, up to 200 participants were allowed.104 In addition, guidance was issued advising people to stay at home as much as possible and to limit social contact with other people (see Part IV.A.1 above). At the local level, several municipalities introduced stricter regulations. For example, the municipality of Bergen prohibited all private gatherings of more than five persons on 6 November 2020. Before the 2020 Christmas holidays, the Government advised people to not exceed more than 10 people in private gatherings,105 but the national regulations of 20 people in private gatherings were not changed. Some municipalities enacted local regulations permitting private gatherings of no more than 10 people during the holidays. Following concerns of a spike in infection rates during the holidays, stricter national measures were enacted on 3 January 2021 for a period of 14 days.106 In addition to advice to avoid social contact and travel, private gatherings were limited to five persons, indoor events to 10 persons but allowing for 200 persons in indoor events with fixed seats, and the same for outdoor events without fixed seats, and 600 persons for outdoor events with fixed seats.107 The last limitations on gatherings were introduced on 9 December 2021 until 12 February 2022.108 During this period, private gatherings indoors were limited to 20 persons, or 50 persons for funerals or when there were fixed seats. For outdoor events, the limits ranged from 100 to 600 persons.

4.  Closure of premises and facilities (eg schools, shops, services, parks, churches, sport facilities)

75.  With the national public health measures of 12 March 2020, detailed in Part IV.A above, schools and universities were closed from 13 March 2020.109 During the week of 11–15 May 2020, all schools reopened with social distancing guidance in place, following a Government decision on 7 May 2020. To comply with distancing guidance, several schools were open to only half of the students at a time. A full reopening occurred after the summer vacation from August 2020 onwards throughout the whole country, with the possibility for local authorities to close schools or certain grade levels or groups, if necessary. The section 4-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994 also confers powers on municipalities to close schools due to the spread of communicable diseases, and this provision was used to close schools in certain municipalities after local Covid-19 outbreaks from August 2020. By regulation of 16 April 2020, the government specified that municipalities could close educational institutions only when necessary to stop ongoing spread of infection, but not as a general preventive measure.110

76.  The local decisions were to comply with a ‘traffic light system’, developed by the Directorate of Education, where schools were supposed to be placed at either green, yellow, or red level according to the severity of local outbreaks near the schools.111 The regulation made it mandatory for schools to comply with the guidelines. With the aforementioned measures of 3 January 2021, all schools in the country with children above the age of 12 were temporarily placed at red level, due to the increasing spread of Covid-19 during the holidays, meaning the schools were either forced to close down or stay open to only half of the students at a time. On 7 December 2021 the “traffic light system” was reintroduced for all schools and day-care centres,115 and on 13 December, all high schools were placed on the red level while all other schools and day-care centres were placed on the yellow level112.

77.  The regulation of businesses comprised mandatory closures of some businesses, restrictions on operating hours, restrictions on sales, and physical distancing. During the first phase of the response to the pandemic, the businesses which were required to close on 12 March 2020 included all places serving food and beverages in which it was impossible to keep a physical distance of one metre.113 Businesses with physical contact with customers, such as hairdressers, beauty salons, tattoo shops, massage institutes, and so on, were totally closed. These businesses gradually reopened from the end of April 2020 onwards under general guidance given by the Directorate of Health.114 The guidance was made mandatory to these businesses in order to comply with the Covid-19 regulations given by the Government. Gyms, swimming pools, and sport arenas were also shut down, and were not allowed to reopen until June 2020. Later closures were more limited in scope and time. From 23 January 2021, the Government introduced by regulation regional measures according to local increases in the infection rate, which included the closure of businesses such as restaurants and bars, shops other than supermarkets, pharmacies and petrol stations, gyms and swimming pools, religious buildings except for funerals, libraries and museums, and venues for amusement and cultural activities.115 Finally, all gyms, swimming pools, and spas were partially closed, and amusement parks were fully closed, from 15 December 2021 until 12 February 2022.116

78.  In the second phase of the response to the pandemic, local regulations applied to restaurants and bars, especially in Oslo from 8 October 2020,117 and Bergen from 8 September 2020.118 With effect from 7 November 2020, national regulations prohibited the serving of alcohol in restaurants and bars after midnight, and a governmental recommendation advised some municipalities to decide on whether to adopt stricter regulations.119 In several cities, local regulations introduced further restrictions on restaurants, bars, and sports. In Oslo, on 6 November 2020, the local authorities introduced a total prohibition of serving alcohol in restaurant and bars.120 National total bans on serving alcohol in restaurants and bars were introduced by regulations in two periods, from 3 to 22 January 2021, and from 16 December 2021 to 14 January 2022.

79.  Parks were not closed, although children’s playgrounds in schoolyards and nurseries were for the most part closed during the first phase of the pandemic, from 12 March until the reopening of schools on 11 May 2020. Following a relatively low infection rate in Norway during the summer, reporting less than 150 incidents per week from mid-May until mid-July,121 in the second week of August 2020 freshers at universities gathered in the parks in the cities in ‘to get to know each other’ parties and unfortunately spread Covid-19 in the cities of Bergen and Trondheim. The increased infection rates of Covid-19 related to student activities and parties led to massive media coverage and general encouragement from local officials and government ministers to reduce social activities. In some of the larger cities, the police enforced the general prohibition on drinking alcoholic beverages in public places such as parks envisaged in the Criminal Code 2005, and also required large student gatherings in parks to split up according to the national Covid-19 regulations.122

5.  Physical distancing

80.  At the national level, no legal requirement for physical distancing between members of the public has been introduced. However, the Government’s official guidance stressed that there should be at least one metre physical distance between non-family members, which is often referred to as ‘the metre’. 123 For some gatherings and businesses ‘the metre’ was made mandatory to keep the business running. For theatres and movie theatres, concerts, weddings, funerals, and other gatherings, ‘the metre’ became mandatory.124 The last mandatory physical distancing measures were repealed on 12 February 2022. Not surprisingly, the spread of Covid-19 seemed harder to control where people ignored ‘the metre’ rule due to alcohol or parties in general, leading to stricter regulations on gatherings and on businesses serving alcoholic beverages (detailed in Part IV.A.2 above).

6.  Use of face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE)

81.  Face covering was not recommended in Norway during the first phase of the response to the pandemic. Starting from 17 August 2020 onwards, the Government recommended commuters in the Oslo-area use face coverings if they were unable to keep a physical distance of one metre on trains and buses.125 The recommendation was only partially followed, and on 28 September 2020 the municipality of Oslo introduced mandatory face covering on public transport if it is impracticable to keep a physical distance of one metre.126 Similar rules were introduced in other municipalities, some as mandatory and others as general guidance.127 On the national level, the Government recommended the use of face coverings in some situations and regions depending on the infection rate. The Government introduced a mandatory use of face coverings for certain municipalities with a particularly high infection rate from 23 January 2023 onwards. Only from 9 December 2021 until 12 February 2022, due to the spread of the Omicron variant, did the Government make it mandatory to wear face coverings on the national level. The requirement applied to certain public situations where it was not possible to maintain a one metre distance from others.

7.  Isolation of infected individuals and quarantine of individuals suspected of infection

82.  The general regulation-making power under the Infection Control Act 1994 can be used to force a person to (a) submit to medical examination (section 3-3), unless the examination is highly invasive; (b) be kept in isolation if infected by a dangerous communicable disease (section 5-3); and (c) be kept in quarantine if suspected of infection by a communicable disease (sections 4-2 and 4-3). However, the 1994 Act states that all measures pursuant to the Act shall be based on ‘clear medical’ advice and be deemed ‘necessary’ and ‘proportionate’ in relation to both infection control in general and in each particular case (section 1-5).

83.  The Covid-19 regulation (Chapter 2) contains detailed rules on quarantine and isolation specifically for Covid-19 and it has been updated several times. Isolation is prescribed for persons with actual infection based on PCR tests, requiring them to stay isolated in their homes together with their family members (section 7). Quarantine is prescribed for persons that either (a) have been close to a person infected with Covid-19 for more than 15 minutes and with a physical distance of less than 2 metres; or (b) have entered the country from a red-listed area outside of Norway (section 4). In the first phase of the response to the pandemic, the quarantine lasted for 14 days, but was adjusted to 10 days on 7 May 2020 by amendments to the Covid-19 regulation, detailed in Part II.C.21 above. Isolated persons were prohibited from leaving their home, while persons in quarantine were allowed to do necessary errands if all precautions were taken, eg exercising or walking the dog while maintaining social distancing. The Covid-19 regulation also made exceptions to the quarantine rules for some groups entering the country, such as sports professionals and workers within the EEA area. The detailed regulations on who was exempted from the quarantine rules, were adjusted several times. In the second phase of the response to the pandemic, the Government changed the rules on 6 November, restricting entry into the country by imposing a mandatory stay at designated quarantine hotels for 10 days,128 with only partial reimbursement of the costs for foreign workers.129 On 29 November 2021, a ten day quarantine was imposed on members of a household or persons in close contact with a person confirmed as infected and where there were reasons to believe the infection was the Omicron variant.130 This extended quarantine requirement caused significant practical problems for families.

8.  Testing, treatment, and vaccination

84.  Testing, treatment, and vaccination are all free of charge in Norway. However, in the first phase of the pandemic, from late-February until late-May 2020, testing required a recommendation from health professionals. In February and March, such recommendation was only given to health professionals or to very sick persons arriving from abroad. Thus, the Directorate of Health stated in October 2020 that it was likely that 5 to 10 times as many people suffered from Covid-19 in Norway in March and April 2020 than registered.131 In November 2020, the NIPH still estimated that only 4 out of 10 incidents were found in October.132 Most infected people were not treated, but isolated, while those hospitalized were treated in public hospitals. Due to effective measures against the spread of Covid-19 so far, the hospitals have been able to treat everybody in need of lifesaving treatment. As of 6 January 2021, 53,326 people have tested positive for Covid-19, and 467 have died.

85.  The first doses of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in Oslo on 26 December 2020, and a disabled 67 year-old man became the first to be vaccinated.133 The vaccination plan, schedule, and priorities are drawn up and administered by the NIPH and decided by Ministry of Health and Care Services.134 On 22 December 2020, upon the advice of the NIPH, the Ministry of Health and Care Services decided that the elderly and others staying in long-term facilities were to be vaccinated first.135 The decision was publicly criticised by health professionals, leading to the NIPH to change the priorities so that front line health professionals were also allowed vaccination at an early stage.136 The vaccine was voluntary, but according to section 3-8 of the Infection Control Act 1994, the Ministry of Health and Care Services can by regulation order mandatory vaccination for whole or parts of the population, or impose movement restrictions on non-vaccinated persons, if such vaccination is ‘absolutely necessary (‘avgjørende’) to neutralise a serious outbreak of a dangerous communicable disease’.

86.  Unlike many European countries, a Covid-19 certificate proving vaccination or immunity through infection was never implemented in Norway. However, the issue was much discussed both in public and in the government. The public hearing for a draft law received a record 10,572 responses, while the prolongation of the law received 22,339 responses.137 On 11 June 2021, Parliament adopted a new temporary chapter 4A of the Infection Control Act 1994, which set out a framework for the use of Covid-19 certificates based on the EU Digital COVID Certificate.138


9.  Contact tracing procedures

88.  The legal basis for contact tracing guidance is section 3-6 of the Infection Control Act 1994. In March 2020, the Government and the Directorate of Health stated that the strategy was to strike down the pandemic in Norway.139 From mid-May it became clear that the Government strategy had changed somewhat to tracing and isolating incidents of Covid-19, though a change in strategy was never explicitly communicated. The general governmental strategy was to combat the pandemic in Norway by implementing mandatory contact tracing guidance in all municipalities.140 The strategy was based on four criteria; test, isolation, tracing, and quarantine, called ‘TISK’ in Norwegian. Due to mandatory provisions on testing, isolation, tracing, and quarantine in the 1994 Act, all measures in the TISK strategy are expressly provided for in the legal framework. There are no reports of people refusing to test voluntarily, if asked to do so by local officials. However, there have been a few incidents were local officials have reported people not willing to help with tracing Covid-19, and on 21 October 2020 the Minister of Health and Care Services called on people not to joke or invent fake names to prevent or delay the work of those tracing the infection.141

10.  Measures in long-term care facilities or homes for the elderly, restrictions on visitors etc

89.  According to the section 7-1 of the Infection Control Act 1994, infection control measures for residential care for the elderly falls under the responsibility of local authorities. During the public health measures from 12 March 2020 until the end of May, the municipalities decided to impose either restrictions or a total ban on visits in homes for the elderly. After only a few weeks, there were a massive amount of complaints against the total bans on visits, which were leaving the elderly totally isolated (detailed in Part VI.F below). Gradually the prohibitions were lifted, and national guidance was given by the Directorate of Health on 27 May 2020 to the municipalities on how to open to visitors, and still manage to prevent an outbreak of Covid-19.142

B.  Enforcement and Compliance

1.  Enforcement

90.  According to the Covid-19 regulation pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994, violations of public health regulations can lead to either a civil fine or imprisonment of up to six months. However, not all public health regulations are subject to enforcement. In general, the Government has repeatedly appealed to the public to fight the pandemic together, based on willingness and caring for each other. The amount of the fine depends on the violation, but the Director of Public Prosecutions levies a fixed fine of NOK 20,000 (approximately € 2,000) for violations regarding the isolation and quarantine rules.143 For violations of local regulations, the police may fine up to the same amount. However, the standard for ordinary violations within the Oslo Police District is set to NOK 2,000 (approximately € 200) for not wearing face coverings on public transport when required, to NOK 10,000 (approximately € 1,000) for hosting gatherings of more people than allowed, and to NOK 5,000 (approximately € 500) for attending such a gathering.144 The fines are levied through criminal procedure.

91.  The National Police Directorate has confirmed that in 2020 there were at least 891 criminal cases related to Covid-19, and that 550 of these cases represented violations of regulations on isolation, quarantine, and gatherings, others represented fraud, threats, violence, and other violations related to Covid-19.145 In 2021, close to 3000 Covid-19 related cases were reported, 83% of which were violations of infection control measures.146

92.  The Armed Forces have only played a limited role in enforcing Covid-19 measures. During the public health measures in March 2020, some military personnel were deployed on the request and under the command of the police147 to control the border with Sweden.148 In relation to communicable diseases, the section 4-10 of the Infection Control Act 1994 requires the Armed Forces to assist in the application of measures pursuant to the Act.

2.  Compliance

93.  A key aim of the public health measures introduced on 12 March 2020 was to reduce mobility in society. Mobile data analysis by the largest telephone service provider Telenor suggests a reduction of mobility between municipalities of more than 60% by 7 April compared to before the introduction of public health measures on 12 March.149 Mobile data analysis by the mobile service provider Telia found 35% less mobility within municipalities on a national level and more in the largest cities following the 12 March measures.150 Analysis of mobile data in the capital Oslo in November 2020, showed that mobility within the city remained more than 25% lower than at the same time in 2019.151

94.  As for other public health measures, they appear to have been largely complied with. A poll published on 11 November 2020 shows that 9 out of 10 complied with hand washing and physical distance requirements, and a majority of the population observed face mask requirements.152 However, according to the same poll, only 3 out of 10 believed other people complied with infection control measures. A scientific study covering the months of April to July 2020 found that self-adherence to quarantine and isolation requirements was low and declined over time, questioning the effect of such measures.153 The most debated measures are the use of face coverings and regulation of visitors in private homes. A study published on 8 August 2020, before face coverings were made mandatory in certain areas and for certain activities, showed that 17% of the adult population would refuse to wear face coverings no matter if regulations made them mandatory or not.154 This attitude might have contributed to later regulations making face coverings mandatory only in situations where social distancing are impossible.

V.  Social and Employment Protection Measures

95.  On 11 March 2020, the Ministry of Health and Care Services published a circular saying as a main rule that individuals and businesses should themselves cover expenses incurred due to guidance or decisions to control the pandemic.155 The following day on 12 March, the Government introduced mobility restrictions, closing schools as well as businesses with physical contact with customers (see Part IV.A above). From that day onwards, the restrictive attitude towards state support was replaced with state support for individuals and businesses to deal with the negative economic effects of the infection control measures.

96.  The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Organisation (NAV) estimated that temporary regulatory changes due to the pandemic had cost NOK 23 billion in increased costs for welfare benefits in 2020 and NOK 16 billion in 2021.156 For both years, regulatory changes were estimated to amount to 60% of increased costs for the national insurance. For 2022, the estimate of extra costs due to pandemic related regulatory changes stood at 4 billion NOK.

A.  Social protection measures

97.  The Norwegian approach was to strengthen existing social protection schemes by including Covid-19 disease and infection control measures as grounds to extend existing benefits. Some social protection schemes normally reserved for employees were also extended to new groups such as freelancers and the self-employed.

98.  The most important measures for social and employment protection were adopted in one regulatory package on 20 March 2020.

99.  As a first step, Parliament adopted the new Article 25-16 in the National Insurance Act 1997, effective from 20 March 2020.157 This provision authorised the Government by regulation to extend benefits according to the National Insurance Act 1997 in case of an outbreak or risk of outbreak of a dangerous communicable disease. A similar provision was adopted as the new Article 12-16 in the Working Environment Act 2005, allowing the Ministry for Labour and Social Inclusion to derogate from the rules in the law on temporary layoffs.158 On 20 March, the Mandatory Wages Act 1988 was temporarily amended with the new Article 3b, which allowed the Ministry for Labour and Social Inclusion to derogate from that law.

100.  On the same day as the derogation acts went into force, the Government adopted a temporary regulation that derogated from the National Insurance Act 1997 and the Working Environment Act 2005 to include Covid-19 related restrictions as grounds for benefits.159 This regulation was subsequently amended 34 times and remained the key regulatory tool for social and employment protection throughout the pandemic.

1.  Social assistance

101.  In Norway, the state offers financial social assistance for those who are unable to financially support themselves, which is intended to cover the cost of bare essentials for a limited time. This benefit remained unchanged during the pandemic. However, increased hardship due to the pandemic led the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion in April 2020 to issue a new guideline that allowed the NAV to ease documentation requirements to qualify for financial social assistance. It also relaxed the rule that property owners could not claim. 160 This is because some people that were in need of financial social assistance due to the pandemic would not have qualified because they were property owners and thus had a source of potential income by selling that property. Since the hardship was believed to be short-term, it was considered to be disproportionate to require these people to sell their property to qualify for aid, since that may have left them worse off after the pandemic.

102.  The only cash-based transfer scheme established concerned self-employed persons and freelancers. By a temporary regulation of 8 April 2020, the Government established a compensation scheme for self-employed persons and freelancers who had lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic.161 The scheme compensated 80% of one’s income for the previous year if that income exceeded 0.75G (where G stands for the basic amount in the national insurance scheme) but capped to 6G (approximately USD 70.526), as other national insurance benefits. Compensation was given from day 17 after the loss of income. The compensation scheme was extended by a temporary law on 12 June 2020 and lasted until 1 May 2022.162 The compensation rate was reduced to 60% from 1 November 2020,163 but then raised to 70% from 1 January 2022.164

2.  Social insurance

103.  The regulation of 20 March adapted the main social insurance benefits provided under the National Insurance Act 1997 to loss of jobs or work impediments due to the pandemic.

104.  For unemployment benefits, the regulation reduced the working hours and minimum income required to qualify, removed the mandatory three-day waiting period before payment to prove real intent as job seeker, and increased the rate for unemployment benefit. Compared to 2019, the number of persons receiving unemployment benefits increased by 255% in 2020.165 For employees temporarily laid off (furlough scheme), the state guaranteed a full salary, limited to a maximum of 6G (National Insurance scheme basic amount, approximately USD 70.526) from day 3 up until day 20. The rate for the general unemployment benefit was raised to 80% of their income for an income of up to 3G (approximately $ 35.263) and 62,4% for an income between 3G and 6G. The minimum working hours required to be eligible for unemployment benefits was reduced from 50% to 40% to allow employers to partially lay off employees and thus reduce the burden on the individual. From 3 April unemployment benefits were extended to apprentices. These remained in force until 1 April 2022. NAV estimated that 13.2% of the workforce had been temporarily laid off at one point between March 2020 and February 2021, a total of 372.400 persons—compared to only 9000 in 2019.166

105.  From 22 April 2020, the Government temporarily (until 20 September 2020) eased the restrictions on education and training while receiving unemployment benefits.167

106.  For sickness benefits, the regulation of 20 March 2020 extended the right to receive benefits to situations where Covid-19 infection was suspected. The regulation also suspended the general requirement of a doctor’s certificate for benefits. Sickness benefits were extended to the self-employed and freelancers on 27 March. On 14 April 2020, the Government adopted a regulation denying paid sick leave for persons violating official travel advice and subject to quarantine upon re-entry.168

107.  The regulation of 20 March 2020 extended care benefits to care for children under the age of 12 if schools or day-care centres were closed due to the pandemic, and doubled the number of days care benefits were paid out. Freelancers and the self-employed had the right to care benefits before the pandemic, but only after a ten-day waiting period. The regulation reduced the waiting period to three days. Later, when the pandemic affected certain parts of the country, the government established a flexible scheme for care benefits due to local restrictions.169

108.  Finally, the regulation extended the right to work assessment allowance to six months regardless of the three-year maximum duration in the law.

109.  As for pensions, the legislation on pensions was temporarily amended on 17 April 2020 so that employers could allow employees temporarily laid off due to the pandemic to remain members of the pension scheme.170 This reduced costs for the employer since the payment of premiums were suspended. The employees could sign continued insurance at a reduced cost since the employer would still cover the costs for the administration of the pensions. The amendments were given effect for six months but were prolonged several times until 28 February 2022. Thereafter, the rules were made permanent in regulations to the pension laws.

110.  Due to the urgent need for health professionals, changes were made on 20 March 2020 to the laws regulating the pensions of healthcare workers, allowing retired nurses, pharmacists, and other retired public employees to work as volunteers or be ordered to work pursuant to the Health Preparedness Act 2000 without risking reduction of their pensions.171 These rules remained in force until 1 January 2023.

3.  Tax relief and other social measures

111.  In Norway, the negative economic effects of the pandemic for individuals were not addressed through tax measures, but through general social insurance measures detailed in Part V.A.2 above. Tax measures were, however, an important regulatory tool for businesses, as detailed in Part V.B.1 below.

112.  Some tax related measures were directed at self-employed or personal owners of businesses. On 13 March, the Ministry of Finance extended the deadline for payment of advanced taxes for self-employed persons from 15 March to 1 May 2020.172 An amendment to the Tax Payment Act 2005 on 27 March allowed personal owners of businesses to defer payment of asset taxes for one year if the annual account for 2020 was negative.173

113.  On 20 March 2020, the Government reduced the low VAT rate from 12% to 8%.174 This VAT rate applies for entrance to cinemas, museums and amusement parks, sport events, public transport, and hotel accommodation services. The purpose of this tax relief was not to reduce costs for consumers, but to assist businesses particularly affected by the infection control measures. On 27 March, the VAT for these services was further cut to 6% until 31 October 2020.175

114.  Indirect measures were taken by the Government to prevent defaults on house loans due to pandemic-related payment difficulties. For lending, Norwegian pre-pandemic law set conditions of loan-to-asset value ratio, ability to pay, and periodical payments. By regulation of 23 March 2020, the Government raised the limit of loans not in compliance with legal criteria in banks’ portfolios. This allowed banks to lend to clients not fulfilling the criteria for up to 20% of the total amount of that banks’ loans, compared to 10% under the normal rules.176

115.  The closing of schools and universities from 12 March 2020 had an economic impact on students who were dependent on the national student loan and scholarship scheme. A temporary regulation of 3 April 2020 allowed students to keep loans and scholarships even if they did not fulfil attendance requirements or if they aborted studies abroad.177 The new rules also allowed for additional loans for students who could prove a loss of income, and for students to take certain pandemic-related vital jobs without reduction of scholarships and loans.

116.  Because of the closing of day-care centres, payments for day-care and after-school programmes were deferred for the duration of the closure.178

B.  Employment protection measures

117.  The general approach in Norway to employment protection measures was to support businesses financially to prevent layoffs and to support persons laid off by increasing and extending unemployment benefits, as detailed in Part V.A.2 above.

1.  Economic support for employers

118.  In order to prevent mass layoffs, the Government and Parliament resorted to both general measures to support businesses as well as targeted measures to reduce the economic burden of keeping employees that were unable to work due to the pandemic.

119.  Targeted measures included a reduction of the employers’ liability to pay care benefits from up to ten days to three days, introduced by regulation on 20 March 2020.179 The reduction was repealed on 1 October 2021, but from 1 January to 1 July 2022, a reduced employer-financed period (the period during which the employer must pay temporary laid-off workers their full pay) of five days was reintroduced.

120.  An amendment to the Mandatory Wages Act 1988 on 20 March 2020 reduced the employer-financed period in case of temporary lay-offs from 15 to two days.180 After the two days, the state would take over the responsibility for further payments. On 23 June, the employer-financed period was increased to ten days,181 before it returned to the original 15 days by a regulation of 17 December 2021 that went into force from 18 February 2022.182

121.  To prevent temporary lay-offs, a salary support scheme for businesses that brought back employees who had been temporarily laid off due to the pandemic was introduced by law in July 2020.183 The scheme was in force on and off in four separate periods until it was abolished in February 2022.

122.  As for general measures, the Government sought to compensate businesses for losses incurred due to the infection control measures. In contrast to the 2008 financial crisis, where economic support for the private sector consisted mostly of loans, the Norwegian Government also resorted to cash subsidies.184 On 17 April 2020, a temporary law introduced a general compensatory scheme for lost business, whereby businesses could get compensation for fixed costs if sales had fallen below a threshold due to the pandemic.185 The threshold was set at 30% sales drop compared to the same month in 2019 (20% for March 2020). Compensation for fixed costs was calculated so that a charge of USD 1165 was deducted from the fixed costs and then multiplied with the percentage of lost sales. This sum would then be multiplied by a factor of 0.8, the sum of which would be the compensation.186 The scheme was given retroactive effect for the month of March. Variations of this scheme remained in force until February 2022. In addition, sector-specific compensatory schemes were introduced by regulation for cultural, sport, non-profit, media, and public transport businesses. The Ministry of Finance estimated that the value of public subsidies granted to the private sector from 2020 to 2022 stood at NOK 109.9 billion (roughly €10 billion).187

123.  Another measure was a scheme established in March 2020, whereby the state guaranteed 90% of new loans to businesses facing a liquidity crisis due to the pandemic. By May 2022, NOK 11 billion (roughly €1 billion) of state guarantees had been granted.188

124.  A third measure consisted of tax relief for businesses, either by reducing certain taxes, or by deferring tax payments.189

2.  Worker protection from dismissal and other contractual protections

125.  On 13 August 2020 and effective from 1 November the maximum period for temporary lay-offs was increased from 26 to 52 weeks.190 Temporary lay-offs entitled an employee to unemployment benefits while the employer would keep the employee formally employed.

126.  Online working from home was not imposed on employees by regulation at the national level, but through recommendations and regulations at the local level, as detailed in Part IV.A above. In many cases, online working was imposed by employers following the official guidance.

3.  Other worker protections

127.  No measures found.

4.  Health and safety

128.  With the infection risk for health professionals in mind, the Government included Covid-19 as a disease qualifying for occupational injury benefits on 7 April 2020.191 The regulation was given retroactive effect from 1 March 2020.

5.  Activation

129.  In April 2021, the Government announced that NOK 139 million would be allocated to short-time educational programs targeting newly educated persons, young persons with little working experience, and unemployed persons.192

6.  Social partners

130.  In Norway, there is strong and long-established tripartite cooperation between the state, the employer’s unions, and labour unions on salary and other work-related issues. Rather than derogating from the Work Environment Act, on 16 March 2020 the Government concluded an agreement with the labour unions representing public employees to allow for a temporary increase of the limitation of overtime work and a reduction of the rest period between shifts.193

7.  Other legal measures

131.  From 9 December 2021 to 1 February 2022, the Covid-19 regulation (detailed in Parts II.C and V.B.2 above) required employers to facilitate working from home when feasible and possible. The occupational injury insurance (see Part V.B.4 above) according to the National Insurance Act 1997 also applied for injuries sustained when working from home.41

VI.  Human Rights and Vulnerable Groups

A.  Civil liberties

132.  Most civil liberties have been affected by the infection control measures adopted to limit the spread of Covid-19 in Norway. Restrictions on freedom of movement, the right to family and private life, freedom of expression and assembly, and the right to property are detailed in Parts III.F and IV.A above. Vaccination was never made mandatory in Norway, and the personal liberty of those who were against vaccination was never violated.

133.  Some of the restrictions have been criticised by the official Coronavirus Commission,194 the Parliamentary Ombud195 and other public inspectorate bodies,196 the Norwegian Human Rights Institution,197 and scholars198 for being disproportionate and lacking sufficient legal basis. The intensity of public criticism varied with the development of the pandemic and the infection control measures, with particularly intense criticism following the introduction of measures in mid-March 2020 and with the measures against the Omicron variant in late November 2021.

134.  Judicial review of restrictions of civil liberties has been limited considering the vast scope and long duration of the restrictions.199 Of the 920 regulations on infection control measures adopted by local governments (there are 356 municipalities) between 11 March 2020 and 25 January 2022, only two were challenged in the courts. In both cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the measures were in accordance with the law and the ECHR.200

135.  Only three civil cases on Covid-19-related regulations have been decided by the courts. Two of the lawsuits challenged entry quarantine obligations, while the third lawsuit challenged the scope of the decision to close certain businesses in the spring of 2020. Only eleven criminal cases for violations of regulations pursuant to the Infection Control Act 1994 are recorded. The state won all cases.

136.  Common for the civil cases is that the court decisions were only rendered long after the restrictions had been lifted or changed. No court accepted requests for interim measures against Covid-19 restrictions.

137.  The Supreme Court decided a total of three cases on Covid-19 restrictions in 2022 as well as an appeal decision in 2020, detailed in Part III.C above.201 Two cases concerned the legality of local regulations restricting the number of visitors in private homes. In the third case, owners of vacation homes in Sweden challenged the legality of quarantine obligations upon entry into Norway. In all three cases, the Supreme Court decided in favour of the government. In these decisions, and in particular the decision of 6 April 2022 on entry quarantine obligations,202 the Supreme Court settled the interpretation of the proportionality requirement in section 1-5 of the Infection Control Act 1994 and its relation to the ECHR.

B.  Privacy

138.  Immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) developed a contact tracing application for installation on smartphones. The first ‘Smittestopp’ (stop infection) app was launched by the NIPH on 16 April 2020. The app had been downloaded to approximately 1.6 million smartphones as of 3 June 2020 (Norway’s population in 2020 was about 5.3 million).203 On 15 June 2020, the app was deactivated because the Norwegian Data Protection Authority had concluded that the app did not adequately protect privacy in accordance with the EU’s GDPR, which applies as Norwegian law under the EEA Agreement.204 This was due, among other things, to the fact that data collected from smartphones’ GPS and Bluetooth was not only stored locally on the smartphones, but also transmitted to a cloud storage service in an unencrypted form. The reason for this was that the public health authorities had two purposes for the app, one of which was to limit the spread of infection, and the other to monitor the population’s movements during the pandemic. A new ‘Smittestopp’ app with better privacy protection was launched on 21 December 2020. This time, the purpose was solely to limit the spread of infection. However, the new app was not successful and achieved only about half the downloads compared to the first ‘Smittestopp’ app. This is believed to be due to weakened trust in the authorities after the first ‘Smittestopp’ app.205

139.  In addition to the contact tracing app, privacy issues were raised in the public debate concerning regulations on visits to private homes and local healthcare institutions, as detailed in Part IV.A.3 and 10 above. Local regulations on visitation bans in healthcare institutions were implemented, some even before the closing of educational and other public institutions and certain private businesses on 12 March 2020. Critics, among them the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution,206 pointed out early on that this could constitute a violation of the right to privacy and family life.207 Throughout the pandemic, there were also varying visitation regulations in hospitals. Particular public attention was given to some hospitals refusing to allow fathers or other close relatives to be present during births,208 and studies have shown that women giving birth during the pandemic were significantly less content with birth conditions than those who gave birth pre-pandemic.209

140.  With the introduction of infection control measures on 12 March 2020, recommendations not to visit other people’s homes were also given by national and local authorities. Nationally, this recommendation remained in force throughout the pandemic, but locally, visit restrictions in private homes were introduced by regulations of varied severity. The first local regulations were introduced as early as August 2020, but public criticism came with the introduction of visitation restrictions in private homes by Bergen municipality in the autumn of 2020. In another municipal regulation, private gatherings in private homes of more than five people were prohibited on 6 November 2020. In practice, this meant that households with five or more people were cut off from any visits. The regulation led to extensive local criticism. It is likely that the criticism had an impact on other municipalities’ measures in private homes, as later local regulations in other parts of the country mainly allowed at least two visitors in private homes. However, following the outbreak of the Omicron variant, one municipality went so far as to prohibit all visits to private homes for a week.210 On 10 November 2022, the Supreme Court ruled on the validity of the Bergen municipality’s regulation and concluded that the regulation satisfied the requirements of sufficient medical justification in Article 1-5 of the Infection Control Act 1994.211

141.  As detailed in Part IV.A.1, the Government introduced a national prohibition on staying in vacation homes for six weeks in the spring of 2020.212

C.  Gender

142.  The official inquiries into the authorities handling of the pandemic have so far not had a specific gender or equality perspective. This lack of attention has been criticized by gender researchers.213 However, research has shown that the reported intimate partner violence increased by 54% from March until December 2020.214 Whilst the reported crime dropped in 2020 and 2021, the police in Oslo reported a significant increase (22%) in reports of sexual crimes in 2021.215 A national inquiry on women’s health found that there had been a significant increase in eating disorders among young girls during the pandemic and linked the cause to the closing of schools and leisure activities from 12 March 2020.216

D.  Ethnicity and race

143.  In the early stages of the pandemic, it was reported that certain groups of migrants seemed overrepresented in the statistics of testing positive for Covid-19 and with a fatal outcome. A later meta-study confirmed that the risk of Covid-19 infection was significantly higher for persons born in Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey.217 The official inquiry found the mortality rate from Covid-19 was six times higher for immigrants from Africa and 3.6 times higher for immigrants from Asia.218 The NIPH suggested in 2021 that the reasons for the higher infection and mortality rate were complex. For example, immigrants were more exposed to infection since many have jobs that cannot be performed from the home office, there existed linguistic and cultural barriers which made information less accessible, and people with immigrant backgrounds were less likely to seek digital health care.219 Other studies showed shortcomings in the adaptation and targeting of communication at the early stage of the pandemic.220 In March 2020, the Directorate of Health established a working group to provide guidance for local governments in reaching out to immigrant communities. Information was translated into numerous languages, adapted to different groups, and published on various media and social media platforms, as well as communicated to immigrant communities directly.221 On 23 April 2020, the Ministry of Education and Research gave the Directorate for Integration and Diversity the task of coordinating communications to the immigrant population. In the official inquiry, the Ministry of Health and Care Services concluded that the authorities could have channelled information to specific immigrant communities at an earlier stage.222 Later in the pandemic, the authorities held campaigns on the need for vaccination in more than 40 languages and placed vaccination centres in areas considered to be typically immigrant communities.223

E.  Disability

144.  As detailed in Part VI.B above, visitation restrictions were introduced in healthcare institutions in 55% of municipalities in the early stage of the pandemic. These visitation bans particularly affected elderly people and people with disabilities, some of whom were prohibited from receiving their own families during the first two months of the pandemic. The visitation bans were adopted following guidelines from the Directorate of Health on 14 March 2020, which, in bold letters, stated that it was ‘necessary with access control and a general cessation of visitations in all public and private health and care facilities in the country’.224 This was illustrative of the general confusion of recommendations and legally binding regulations (detailed in Part II.D above), as the official inquiry into the Covid-19 pandemic found that two-thirds of the municipalities interpreted the recommendation as an order.225

145.  Visitation restrictions were generally adopted rapidly. In 20% of the cases, the local authorities spent less than half a day in adopting the regulation, 42% spent between a half and a full day, while 31% spent between 2 and 3 days.226 The visitation restrictions were lifted in late May 2020. The official inquiry of the coronavirus pandemic concluded that visitation bans in private homes in many municipalities were unlawful and were adopted without proper legal assessment, in particular concerning the right to respect for private life and family life under the Norwegian Constitution and Article 8 of the ECHR.227

F.  Elderly

146.  See Part VI.E above.

G.  Children

147.  As detailed in Part VI.C above, the closing of schools and day-care centres on 12 March 2020 led to immediate concerns in the child welfare sector. A national inquiry found a significant increase in referrals of children to psychiatric healthcare during the pandemic.228 There were also public concerns that violence against children would increase when they could not attend school or day-care centres, as the effectiveness of the child welfare services partly relied on notification by educational institutions.229 The official inquiry found that emergency services for children run by charities experienced a significant increase in requests during the closing of educational institutions in the spring of 2020, while the police noted an increase in reports of abuse and sexual crimes against children.230 As a result of these concerns, and because Covid-19 was believed to be less dangerous to children, day-care centres and primary schools were reopened before other parts of society, as early as 19 April 2020 for day-care centres, 26 April for the first four grades in primary school, and 11 May for the remaining grades up to the tenth grade.

148.  On 29 May 2020, the Government introduced a ‘traffic light system’ to regulate the infection control measures in schools and day-care centres according to the local infection rate, as outlined in Part IV.A.4 above. Studies have shown that the ‘traffic light system’ was effective in reducing the infection rate in society.231 However, the ‘traffic light system’ also meant that schools in larger cities and in the Oslo-area were closed to a much greater extent in the winter and spring of 2021 than schools in smaller towns and rural areas.232

H.  Prisoners

149.  At the outbreak of the pandemic, the legal framework did not take into account the challenges caused by the pandemic in prisons. Regulatory measures concerning prisoners were adopted during the pandemic. Temporary legislation to regulate visits in prisons, leave, probationary releases, and postponement of serving prison terms to prevent overcrowding and uphold distancing measures were adopted by the Government on 27 March 2020 by authorization in the Corona Act 2020, and then by Parliament on 26 May 2020.233 Temporary legislation on these issues, as well as exclusion of prisoners from the prison population upon suspected infection, were adopted again on 18 December 2020 and remained in force with only small interruptions until 1 July 2023.234 On 22 June 2020, the most intrusive measures were lifted.235 New measures introduced on 4 January 2021 required individual assessment in accordance with the Ombud’s report.236 The Norwegian Correctional Service also adopted mitigation measures, such as digital visits and free, increased phone time.

150.  To prevent the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, some prisoners were released early, some were transferred to home confinement with ankle monitors, and there was also a halt to summons for those with shorter sentences. This effort reduced the prison population from 3200 to 2600, and allowed all prisoners to stay in single rooms.237

151.  For prisoners who remained in prison, however, there was a ban on visits and an increased degree of isolation. In a circular of 3 April 2020, the Norwegian Correctional Service ordered a 14-day quarantine in a single room without contact with other inmates for all new inmates and other groups of inmates that could have been exposed to infection. This circular was criticized by the Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration, as well as the Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, since the law did not allow for preventive measures amounting to isolation.238 An appeals court concluded that general restrictions could, in the initial phase of the pandemic, be justified on the principle of necessity. However, it recommended an individualized approach and stated such measures would, in the future, require specific legislation.239

152.  The ban on visits was introduced on 13 March 2020 and lasted until 1 June 2021. At Trondheim Prison, prisoners were denied contact with their own lawyer in January 2021, which was quickly addressed by the Norwegian Bar Association and repealed. With an amendment on 1 December 2021, the ability to deny visits to prisons due to the risk of infection was significantly narrowed.240

I.  Non-citizens

153.  On 10 March 2020, mandatory quarantine measures were introduced for entry into Norway from other countries.241 These quarantine rules were gradually extended to include all countries, including Sweden, which Norway shares a long common border with and where workers commute daily to. With the comprehensive measures introduced on 12 March 2020, daily commuters from Sweden were exempt from the quarantine rules. On 15 July 2020, the borders were also opened for migrant workers from the Schengen Area, but with a requirement for testing and quarantine imposed by the employer. These new rules were adopted on the proposal and suggestion of The Federation of Norwegian Industries, the largest employer union in Norway.242 Shortly after the border opening there was a resurgence of Covid-19 in Europe and subsequently in Norway in the autumn of 2020,243 which in turn led to widespread demands among the population that the borders should be kept more closed than they had been. A mandatory quarantine hotel scheme was therefore introduced by regulation for all travellers from 7 November 2020, initially with exceptions for those residing in Norway, but from February 2021, for all travellers, including persons residing in Norway.

J.  Indigenous peoples

154.  There is currently little knowledge about how the indigenous Sami people were affected by the pandemic and the consequent restrictions. What is said about infection control measures and compensatory measures in this report applies to the Sami people too. According to the Sami Parliament—which has a consultative and representative function—Sami businesses were awarded extra economic support in 2020 and 2021 from the Norwegian government to prevent bankruptcies.244

155.  Before the pandemic, the Sami people could freely travel across the borders to other countries where the Sami people reside—Sweden, Finland, and Russia—but with an additional checkpoint at the border with Russia due to Schengen Area rules. As detailed in Part VI.I above, Norway kept the borders closed at times, and at other times, only opened them on the condition that persons crossing the border into Norway were quarantined. On 15 January 2021, the NGO Saami Council expressed concerns that the border regulations over time were dividing Sami families residing on different sides of the borders in the four countries with Sami populations.245

Prof. Eirik Holmøyvik, Faculty of Law, University of Bergen

Prof. Benedikte Moltumyr Høgberg, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo

Prof. Christoffer Conrad Eriksen, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo


1  Last amended 14 May 2020.

2  Constitution, arts 75–79.

3  Constitution, art 17.

4  Constitution, art 89.

5  See E Smith, ‘Judicial Review of Legislation’ in H Krunke and B Thorarsen, The Nordic Constitutions. A Comparative and Contextual Study (Hart Publishing 2018) ch 5.

6  See eg HR-2010-2057-P (Supreme Court of Norway).

8  See eg Human Rights Act 1999; EEA Act 1992; see also Holship Norge AS and ors v Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union, Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (intervener) Judgment HR-2016-2554-P (SCN).

9  Maria Judgment and order HR-2015-206-A (SCN).

11  See Norwegian Institute for Public Health, ‘Covid-19-epidemien: Risikovurdering og respons i Norge’ (12 March 2020).

14  See eg The Minister of Health and Care Services, ‘Stay at home if you become ill’ (Press conference, 18 May 2020).

16  Corona Act 2020; Norwegian Parliament, ‘The Corona Act’ (26 March 2020).

17  All Norwegian legal sources are published on www.lovdata.no. Most regulations dealing with the pandemic have ‘Covid-19’ in the title of the regulation. The non-subscription database only contains legislation in force.

18  Constitution, arts 96, 113.

23  Corona Act 2020, s 4.

25  Norwegian Government, ‘The Government can ban stays in leisure homes etc.’ (15 March 2020).

26  Norwegian Government, ‘Introduces a ban on leisure homes’ (19 March 2020).

27  Norwegian Directorate of Health, ‘People know how to avoid spreading the infection’ (17 March 2020).

28  A complete list over parliamentary resolutions (anmodningsvedtak) in the 2019–2020 parliamentary term are listed at the Parliament’s website (accessed 11 November 2020). Most Covid-19 related resolutions are indicated with the word virusutbruddet in brackets.

30  See also the corresponding amendment on 24 March 2020 of the Rules of Procedure of the Norwegian Parliament, s 50a.

31  President of the Norwegian Parliament, ‘Declarations of non-support to regulations pursuant to the Corona Act 2020’ (28 March 2020).

32  See Corona Act 2020, s 8.

33  See eg V Heljesen and E Senel, ‘The Progress Party moves to curtail the Government’s crisis law’ NRK (Online, 20 March 2020).

35  Norwegian Parliament, ‘Vote count per party’ (21 April 2020); Coronavirus Special Committee, ‘Innst. 240 L (2019-2020) Recommendation to the Storting from the special committee to deal with special cases concerning the corona crisis’ (21 March 2020).

38  See K K Andersland and S S Suvatne, ‘Intenst spill: Ble presset’ Dagbladet (Online 25 March 2022).

39  Rules of Procedure of the Norwegian Parliament, ss 6–9a.

40  Presidium of the Norwegian Parliament, ‘Decisions from the Presidium’s meeting 5 March 2020’.

41  Presidium of the Norwegian Parliament, ‘Decisions from the Presidium’s meeting 11 March 2020’; Norwegian Parliament, ‘The Storting steps up its coronavirus measures’ (12 March 2020).

41 Constitution, art 73.

42  Norwegian Parliament, ‘Parliamentary Party Groups’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

43  Norwegian Parliament, ‘Dispatch of information to the Coronavirus Commission’ (7 October 2020) 3–4.

44  Rules of Procedure of the Norwegian Parliament, ss 25, 26.

45  Rules of Procedure of the Norwegian Parliament, s 47.

46  Norwegian Parliament, ‘The Storting constitutes a coronavirus special committee’ (16 March 2020).

47  Presidium of the Norwegian Parliament, ‘The Storting extends measures against corona’ (17 December 2020).

48  See Constitution, art 73.

49  Presidium of the Norwegian Parliament, ‘Decisions from the Presidium’s meeting 14 May 2020’.

50  K Hellesnes, ‘Christian Democrats got approval for full plenary in the Parliament’ NRK (Online, 22 May 2020).

51  K Kolsrud, ‘We cannot shut down the third branch of government’ Rett24 (Online, 16 April 2020).

53  I L Backer, Norsk Sivilprosess (Universitetsforlaget Oslo 2015) 99–102.

54  Temporary regulation on simplifications and measures within the justice sector to remedy consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19 (FOR-2020-03-27-459) (27 March 2020).

55  A v Public Prosecution Authority Order HR-2020-972-U (Appeals Selection Committee SCN).

57  Norwegian Court Administration and the Norwegian Institute for Public Health, ‘Guide in infection control for Norwegian courts in physical court sessions’ (28 April 2020).

59  Norwegian Court Administration, biannual statistics 2020 for the Courts of Appeal and the Courts of First Instance.

63  K Kolsrud, ‘Agder lagmannsrett stopper alt – andre domstoler går nesten for fullt’ Rett24 (Online, 21 April 2020).

67  See Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘Annual Report 2019’, 7.

68  See eg Norwegian Institution for Public Health, ‘Covid-19-epidemien: Kunnskap, situasjon, prognose, risiko og respons i Norge etter uke 45’ (5 November 2020).

69  See eg S G Tømmerbakke, ‘FHI advarer på nytt mot regjeringens strategi’ (Online, 8 April 2020); P Svaar and T Tollersrud, ‘Dette er FHI og Helsedirektoratet uenige om’ (Online, 27 October 2020).

70  Norwegian Directorate for Health, ‘Beredskapsutvalget diskuterte koronaviruset’ (3 February 2020).

71  O B Nave et al, ‘Høie attacks Solvang of the NRK: These are serious questions’ VG (Online, 28 October 2020).

72  S V Olsson et al, ‘Demonstrations in several places – thousands gathered in Oslo’ NRK (Online, 5 June 2020).

73  Norwegian Government, ‘Guide for deciding claims for access to documents’ (3 April 2020).

74  Norwegian Press Association, ‘The guide for coronavirus access’ (Online, 15 April 2020)

75  Norwegian Government, ‘The Corona Act 2020 and hearings’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

76  Norwegian Parliamentary Ombudsman, ‘Protecting prison inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic’ (June 2020).

78  See Coronavirus commission, ‘Handling by the authorities of the corona pandemic – part 2’ (26 April 2022).

79  Government of Norway, ‘The corona situation: Press conference on new measures to combat the coronavirus’ (Press release No 37/20) (12 March 2020).

80  Norwegian Government, ‘Official announcements from the Council of State 28 February 2020’ (28 February 2020).

81  Constitution, art 28.

82  Norwegian Government, ‘Timeline: The authorities’ management of the coronavirus situation’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

83  Municipality of Oslo, ‘Status on the management of the coronavirus’ (accessed 11 November 2020); Municipality of Bergen, ‘Political decisions in relation to the coronavirus crisis’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

84  Minister for Health and Care Services, ‘A summon to “dugnad”’ (11 March 2020); Minister for Health and Care Services, ‘The “dugnad” will be long-lasting’ (20 March 2020).

87  See eg A Horntvedt, ‘Serious doubts concerning the prohibition on leisure homes’ Finansavisen (Online, 19 March 2020).

88  Regulation on amendments to regulation on infection control measures etc. due to the Covid-19 outbreak (the Covid-19 regulation (FOR-2020-06-12-1186) (12 June 2020).

91  T Stoltz and T Hareland, ‘Mayor oppose the lifting of “Southerners’ quarantine”’ NRK (Online, 1 April 2020).

92  Norwegian Directorate of Health and the NIPH, ‘Memo on assessment and possible measures by increased prevalence of Covid-19 in Oslo’ (25 September 2020).

94  Regulation on quarantine etc. upon arrival in Norway (FOR-2020-03-13-287) (13 March 2020).

95  Regulation on expulsion etc. of foreigners with regard to public health (FOR-2020-03-15-293) (15 March 2020).

97  Regulation on amendment to the Covid-19 regulation (FOR-2020-06-22-1253) (22 June 2020).

101  Regulation on changes to the regulation on entry restrictions for foreigners concerning public health (FOR-2021-01-29-251) (29 January 2021); for a detailed overview and legal analysis of EU and Schengen-related regulations during the pandemic, see S Ø Johansen, ‘Rammene i EØS-retten og Schengen’ in B M Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and C C Eriksen, Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023), 208–308.

102  Norwegian Directorate of Health, ‘The situation we are in will take time and is the new normal’ (11 March 2020).

105  Norwegian Government, ‘Extends national infection control measures’ (15 December 2020).

106  Norwegian Government, ‘Introduction of further national infection prevention measures’ (4 January 2021).

107  Regulation on amendments to the Covid-19 regulation (FOR-2021-01-03-1) (3 January 2021).

111  Directorate of Education, ‘Levels of infection control measures’ (27 May 2020).

112  The Norwegian Government, ‘Stricter national measures to limit infection’ (Online, 13 December 2021).

114  Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘Running of businesses with one-to-one contact such as hairdressers, beauty saloons etc.’ (23 April 2020).

115  Regulation on amendments to the Covid-19 regulation (FOR-2021-01-23-182) (23 January 2021).

117  Municipality of Oslo, ‘8 October: The government’s lifting of Corona-virus measures will not happen in Oslo’ (8 October 2020).

118  Regulation on infection control measures, Bergen municipality, Vestland (FOR-2020-09-08-1733) (8 September 2020).

119  Norwegian Government, ‘Stay at home, and avoid social contact’ (5 November 2020).

120  S Barstad, K H Klemetzen, and T Strandberg, ‘Oslo shuts down – introduces social shutdown and full stop of serving alcohol1’ Aftenposten (Online 6 November 2020).

121  Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘Statistics on coronavirus and Covid-19’ (8 January 2021).

122  R K Sandholt et al, ‘Drinking in the city’s park despite ban’ NRK (Online, 11 August 2020).

123  NTB, ‘Høie warns against letting the metre shrink’ Dagsavisen (Online, 17 June 2020).

127  Municipality of Oslo, ‘New Corona regulations approved in Oslo’ (29 October 2020).

128  Nowegian Government, ‘The corona situation: Stays on quarantine hotels is now mandatory’ (6 November 2020).

129  Norwegian Government, ‘Will cover costs for quarantine upon entry’ (10 November 2020).

130  The Norwegian Government, ‘Introduction of new measures to delay the spread of the omicron variant in Norway’ (29 November 2021); see Regulations on changes to the covid-19 regulations (FOR-2021-11-29-3296) (29 November 2021).

131  C Quist and B Brekken, ‘The situation in March was four to five times worse than today’ VG (Online, 27 October 2020).

132  Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘Covid-19 weekly report – week 44’ (4 November 2020) 22.

133  Norwegian Government, ‘Svein Inge Andersen (67) got the first vaccine in Norway’ (27 December 2020).

134 Decision on priority for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine (FOR-2020-12-22-2911) (22 December 2020).

135  Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘The elderly and the sick will be vaccinated first’ (21 December 2020).

136  Norwegian Institute of Public Health, ‘Guidance for the vaccination of health personnel in the primary- and specialist health services’ (4 January 2021).

138  Act on temporary amendments to the Infection Control Act (LOV-2021-06-11-66) (11 June 2021).

139  Directorate of Health, ‘Priorities of healthcare in Norway during the Covid-19 pandemic’ (25 March 2020).

140  NIPH, ‘Contact tracing’ (8 February 2020, updated 16 November 2020).

141  NTB, ‘Høie: Stop it!’ NRK (Online, 21 October 2020).

142  Directorate of Health, ‘Coronavirus – decisions and recommendations, Chapter 6.3 Nursing homes’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

143  Director of Public Prosecutions, ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19) – Guidance and Directives’ (16 March 2020).

144  Oslo Police District, ‘Coronavirus measures and increase spread of infection’ (5 November 2020); National Police Directorate, ‘Organiser of party fined with NOK 10,000’ (11 November 2020).

145  National Police Directorate, ‘Reported crimes’ (accessed 11 November 2020).

146  See The National Police Directorate, ‘The STRASAK-report 2021’ (15 March 2022), 10.

147  Police Act 1995, s 27a.

148  H C Ekroll and S B BVentzrød, ‘The corona crisis: Deploys the Military to control the border’ Aftenposten (Online, 17 March 2020).

149  Expert group on assignment from the Norwegian Directorate of Health, ‘Social economic assessment of infection control measures – covid-19 (7 April 2020) 76.

151  Municipality of Oslo, ‘Mobility report week 49’ (11 December 2020).

152  Norwegian Red Cross, ‘Lowest trust in that people complies with infection control measures’ (Online, 11 November 2020).

153  A Steens, B F de Blasio, L Veneti et al, ‘Poor self-reported adherence to COVID-19-related quarantine/isolation requests, Norway, April to July 2020’ (2020) 25 Eurosurveillance.

155  Ministry of Health and Care Services (Norway), ‘Circular I-2/2020: Coverage of losses and expenses as a result of the coronavirus’ (11 March 2020).

156  Labour and Welfare Administration (Norway), Developments in the National Insurance 2010-2030 (December 2021), 17.

160  Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion (Norway), ‘The government provides support for the self-employed and freelancers’ (8 April 2020).

166  Labour and Welfare Administration (Norway), ‘Almost one out of every seven worker has been temporarily laid off during the corona pandemic’ (22 March 2021).

169  Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Norway), ‘Right to care days in case of local outbreaks’ (15 September 2020).

170  Pensions are regulated in different laws according to pension schemes, amended respectively by the following amendment laws: An Act amending the Act on defined contribution pensions (LOV-2020-04-17-21); An Act amending the Company Pensions Act (LOV-2020-04-17-20); An Act amending the Insurance Contracts Act (LOV-2020-04-17-25); An Act amending the Occupational Pensions Act (LOV-2020-04-17-22).

171  An Act amending the Act on pension schemes for nurses (LOV-2020-03-20-5); An Act amending the Act on pension schemes for pharmacy operations (LOV-2020-03-04-4); An Act amending the Act on the State Pension Fund (LOV-2020-03-20-3).

172  Ministry of Finance (Norway), ‘Extended deadline for the payment of advanced taxes’ (13 March 2020).

173  Tax Payment Act 2005 (LOV-2005-06-17-67), s 15-3; amended by An Act amending the Tax Payment Act (LOV-2020-03-27-11).

174  Ministry of Finance (Norway), ‘'The government is proposing several measures to secure workplaces’ (20 March 2020).

175  Ministry of Finance (Norway), ‘New measures to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak’ (27 March 2020).

178  Ministry of Education and Research (Norway), ‘Parents don't have to pay for kindergarten and after-school care’ (17 March 2020).

180  An Act amending the Act on layoff wages, (LOV-2020-03-20-6).

184  For an overview of economic support to businesses, see H Skar, ‘Støtten til næringslivet’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen, (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 569–596.

188  Ministry of Finance (Norway), Revised National Budget 2021 (Meld. St. 2, 2021), 97.

189  H Skar, ‘Støtten til næringslivet’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and C C Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 580–583.

192  Ministry of Education and Research (Norway), ‘The government spends 139 million so that unemployed or laid-off people can take education’ (6 April 2021).

193 Agreement between key parties in the state concerning the coronavirus pandemic 2020’ (16 March 2020); Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development (Norway), ‘Possibility of greater flexibility in working hours’ (16 March 2020).

194  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 274

195  Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration (Norway), Care of prison inmates during the Covid-19 pandemic (18 June 2020).

196  The Ombudsperson for Children (Norway), ‘Comments to NOU 2021: 6 – The Coronavirus Commission’s report’ (17 June 2021).

197  Norwegian Human Rights Institution, Safeguarding human rights when dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak (13 November 2020).

198  For a comprehensive legal discussion on infection control measures and legislative measures, see BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023).

199  BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 222–232.

200  Public Prosecution Authority v A and B [2002] HR-2022-2172-A (SCN); A v Public Prosecution Authority [2002] HR-2022-2171-A (SCN).

201  B, C, D, E, A and F v Ministry of Health and Care Services [2022] HR-2022-718-A (SCN); Public Prosecution Authority v A and B [2022] HR-2022-2172-A (SCN); A v Public Prosecution Authority [2022] HR-2022-2171-A (SCN); A v Public Prosecution Authority [2022] HR-2020-972-U (SCN).

202  B, C, D, E, A and F v Ministry of Health and Care Services [2022] HR-2022-718-A (SCN).

203  J Hystad, ‘Public Health Institute asks people to deactivate infection app’ Khrono (Online, 15 June 2020).

204  The Norwegian Data Protection Authority, ‘Temporary suspension of the Norwegian Covid-19 contact tracing app’ (Online, 22 June 2020).

205  For a legal analysis on the ‘Smittestopp’ app, see M Cyndecka, ‘Personvern og smittestopp’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 333–360.

206  Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, Ivaretakelseen av menneskerettighetene under utbruddet av covid-19 (13 November 2020), 92–96.

207  For an overview and analysis of the measures in healthcare institutions, see H Sinding Aasen, ‘Forsvarlig smittevern og omsorg i kommunehelsetjenesten’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 483–514.

208  S Fraser, ‘Pregnant women risks giving birth without the partner present’ VG (Online, 16 March 2020).

209  M Eberhard-Gran, LY Engelsen, I Al-ZirqiI et al, ‘Depressive symptoms and birth experience in mothers of infants during the Covid-19 pandemic’ (2022) 142(3) Tidsskriftet Den Norske Legeforening.

211  Public Prosecution Authority v A and B [2022] HR-2022-2172-A (SCN); for a legal analysis on the visitation restrictions, see H F Marthinussen, ‘Kommunal forbudsiver og rettsstatens utilstrekkelighet’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 441–482.

212  For a legal analysis of the ban, see AP Høgberg, ‘Det nasjonale hytteforbudet’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 417–440.

213  M Teigen, ‘Kjønnslikestillingsperspektiv på koronapandemien’ (2022) 38(3) Tidsskrift for statsvitenskap 101.

214  M Berg Nesset, C Buch Gudde, G E Mentzoni, and T Palmstierna, ‘Intimate partner violence during COVID-19 lockdown in Norway: the increase of police reports’ (2021) 21(2292) BMC Public Health.

215  Norwegian Police Service, Reported Crime in the Oslo Police District 2021 (February 2022), 7.

216  Norwegian Government Security and Service Organisation, ‘Den store forskjellen’ (2023) 5 Norwegian Official Report 1, 124–125.

218  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘The authorities' handling of the corona pandemic - part 2’ (2022) 5 Norwegian Official Report 1, 393.

220  E Diaz, M Norredam, S Aradhya et al, ‘Situational brief: Migration and Covid-19 in Scandinavian countries’ (2020) Lancet Policy Briefs.

221  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 180–182.

222  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 181.

223  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘The authorities' handling of the corona pandemic - part 2’ (2022) 5 Norwegian Official Report 1, 338 and 340.

224  The Directorate of Health (Norway), ’Access control and suspension of visitors in the country's health institutions, etc’ (14 March 2020).

225  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 290.

226  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 291.

227  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 291–292; for an overview and legal analysis on restrictions in the local health service, see H Sinding Aasen, ‘Forsvarlig smittevern og omsorg i kommunehelsetjenesten’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 483–514.

228  Norwegian Government Security and Service Organisation, ‘Den store forskjellen’ (2023) 5 Norwegian Official Report 1, 126.

229  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 355–363.

230  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 425.

231  E Astrup, P Elstrøm, M Greve-Isdahl et al, ‘Evaluering av effekt av smitteverntiltak i skoler februar-april 2021’ (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) (24 April 2021), 23.

232  For a detailed overview and legal analysis of pandemic regulations of day-care centres, schools, and universities, see JCF Nordrum, ‘Barnehage, skole og utdanning’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 515–544.

235  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 389.

236  Norwegian Directorate for Correctional Services, ‘New statutory authority and measures for dealing with Covid-19’ (4 January 2021).

237  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 390.

238  Parliamentary Ombud for Scrutiny of the Public Administration (Norway), Care of prison inmates during the Covid-19 pandemic (18 June 2020); Norwegian National Human Rights Institution, ‘Fulfilling inmates' human rights through measures in prison to remedy the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak’ (5 May 2020).

239  A v Oslo Police District [2020] LB-2020-50640 (Borgarting Court of Appeals, Norway).

240  For a detailed overview and legal analysis of pandemic regulations of prisons, see I Ikdahl, ‘Karantene ved innreise’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 361–392.

241  For a detailed overview and legal analysis of pandemic regulations of prisons, see AK Befring, ‘Pandemitiltak innenfor fengselsmurene’ in BM Høgberg, E Holmøyvik, and CC Eriksen (eds), Kriseregulering. Lovgivning under koronakrisen (Fagbokforlaget 2023) 677–698.

242  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 167–170.

243  Coronavirus Commission (Norway), ‘Myndighetenes håndtering av koronapandemien’ (2021) 6 Norwegian Official Report 1, 170.

244  Sámi Parliament of Norway, ‘Samleside for informasjon i forbindelse med korona-pandemien - Sametinget’ (17 April 2020, updated 4 May 2021).

245  Áslat Holmberg, ‘COVID-19 og det samiske folket: Rettigheter til grensefamilier og -samfunn må respekteres selv i krisetider’ Saami Council (Online, 15 January 2021).