Manager: This is an editorial from Dagbladet, and expresses the newspaper’s view. Dagbladet’s political editor is responsible for the editorial.
Fortunately, the covid-19 pandemic already distant past and a distant memory for most. The fear of infection led to an unreal number of restrictions being placed on an unreal number of areas in what was the daily life and private life of most people.
Schools were closed, masks were mandated, private gatherings of a certain size were banned and arm’s length distancing was introduced in most social gatherings. The border controls became particularly intrusive, with mandatory testing among other things. It has been less than two weeks since the Supreme Court referred two criminal cases for full consideration in which people were fined for violating the infection control rules when entering Norway during the pandemic. The cases are very interesting, because there are two examples of how far the authorities went in compromising basic legal principles in order to stop the spread of infection.
Even if someone broke the rules, the population was consistently very loyal to the measures. The measures also fostered the gossip among us. People who allowed themselves to have parties with too many people were regularly reported to the police and shame was immediately attached to those who were not loyal to the social distancing rules at all times. The then Minister of Health Bent Høie’s (H) yardstick also became a sort of moral yardstick.
Why did we find ourselves in all this? How could the Norwegian population accept restrictions on freedom of movement that had not been stricter since the occupation in 1940-45?
The one reason was of course that, unlike in 1940-45, there was support for and understanding of the measures. The authorities did a good job there, also in areas where they were later told that they went too far.
The second, and very important reason: it was emphasized that the measures should be temporary. But temporary regulations have a tendency to become permanent and there was a justified fear that this could also happen with the covid regulations.
We can reach that fear put a line across. On the advice of the professional authorities, the ministry has declared that covid-19 no longer meets the Swedish Infection Control Act’s criteria to be classified as a public-dangerous infectious disease. At the same time, the previously extensive covid regulations have finally been lifted. “This is a normalization as set out in the government’s strategy and emergency plan”, says Minister of Health and Care Ingvild Kjerkol in a press release. It is also a milestone for important rule of law principles.