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Restrictions End, and Brawls Follow

Unexpected announcement fills streets, clubs with crowds
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 26, 2021 10:40 AM CDT
Brawls Follow End of Restrictions in Norway
People take to the streets Saturday to celebrate the end of the COVID-19 restrictions in Oslo, Norway.   (Naina Helen Jama/NTB via AP)

(Newser) – Police in Norway on Sunday reported dozens of disturbances and violent clashes, including mass brawls in the Nordic country’s big cities, after streets, bars, restaurants, and nightclubs were filled by people celebrating the end of COVID-19 restrictions. Prime Minister Erna Solberg gave just one day's notice that most coronavirus restrictions were being dropped, taking many Norwegians by surprise. Chaotic scenes ensued in the capital, Oslo, and elsewhere in the country, the AP reports.

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Rowdy celebrations across Norway by hundreds of people started Saturday afternoon and lasted until the early hours of Sunday. Police said unrest was reported in several places, including in the southern city of Bergen and the central city of Trondheim, but the situation was the worst in Oslo. Long lines were seen outside Oslo’s nightclubs, bars and restaurants late Saturday, and police registered at least 50 fights and disturbances during the night. Neither vaccination status certificates nor negative test results are required to enter such venues in Norway anymore.

"That's exactly what I predicted would happen," angry nightclub manager Johan Hoeeg Haanes in Oslo told the newspaper VG. "It was a life-threatening situation in the city because they (government) didn't give us at least a few days' advance notice. This was a dangerous situation, as police said all places were packed." Among other incidents, media reported that police received an alert about a man carrying a machete on a bus in Oslo and people fainting while waiting to get into pubs in Trondheim. Solberg responded to criticism of the sudden move to reopen by saying that health experts had supported the decision.

(Read more Norway stories.)

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