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If you think things have gotten bad in the United States — where St. Patrick's Day parades have been canceled, and the NBA is suspended for the rest of the season — just wait until you hear about Norway. Starting Thursday, the small Nordic country announced "measures that will be the most extensive Norway's population has experienced in peacetime," and which involve practically shutting down the entire country in order to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services Bent Høie told the national broadcaster, NRK.
In addition to kindergartens, child care facilities, schools, and universities closing nationwide, and a ban on both professional and amateur sports — measures that have been taken only regionally so far in the U.S. — the entire country of Norway is also requiring all hairdressers, massage clinics, gyms, and tattoo parlors to close, Life in Norway and Swedish journalist Peter Imanuelsen report based off the announcement on NRK. Cultural events are also banned, with museums, pools, and libraries additionally closing. While grocery stores will remain open, restaurants, bars, pubs, and nightclubs are required to close if they can't guarantee a three-foot distance between patrons. Buffets, naturally, are banned.
Additionally, everyone entering Norway from anywhere other than another Nordic country will be required to be home-quarantined, regardless of symptoms — one of the most drastic measures taken in Europe so far. Healthcare professionals are no longer allowed to travel abroad, and the country is encouraging its citizens traveling abroad to return home at once.
Oslo-based Twitter user Cathrine Wilhelmsen emphasized that "Norway is shutting down … this is serious." The country faces one of the worst outbreaks in Europe, with some 632 positive cases as of Thursday morning. "It is extremely important that people follow this advice," Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. "To be able to curb this, we need everyone to come together."