The government of Norway has decided to discontinue the nation-wide alcohol sales ban, allowing municipalities to decide whether to sell alcohol or not. However, the capital city of Oslo will be continuing the alcohol sales ban as COVID-19 cases are still high in the city.

Amidst pressure from opposition parties in the parliament the government of Norway decided to lift the nation-wide alcohol sales ban from Friday, January 21, 2021. However, alcohol can only be served with food and alcohol sales in bars and pubs remain banned nation-wide.

Unfortunately, the opposition parties used the argument that businesses will suffer without alcohol sales to pressure the government. This is a widely popularized argument by the alcohol industry, but lacks proof.

By lifting the sales ban, municipalities of Norway were given the power to decide themselves whether to allow serving alcohol with meals. The capital city Oslo’s government has decided to continue the alcohol sales ban along with strict lockdown measures till February 4, 2021. Trondheim is also reported to continue the alcohol sales ban. Both municipalities have decided to continue the their alcohol availability limitations due to the high number of COVID-19 cases reported within the cities.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) FAQs about alcohol and COVID-19 covers important information regarding the risks of consuming alcohol during the pandemic. The factsheet contains the following facts:

  • Increased vulnerability to COVID-19 as alcohol is linked with communicable and non communicable diseases and mental health disorders. Particularly, increased risk of being infected with the coronavirus because alcohol weakens the immune system.
  • A range of other health, safety and economic harms are addressed, including diversion of limited resources for alcohol instead of essential needs, worsened mental health, increased violence, injuries and accidents.

In April 2020, the WHO Regional Offices for Europe, the Americas (PAHO) and the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) released important new guidance and advice on alcohol and COVID-19.

Groundbreaking New Report Shows Lethal Interaction Between Alcohol and Coronavirus Pandemic

And just this week, a groundbreakingnNew report was released by Movendi International, IOGT-NTO and partners detailing the lethal interaction between alcohol and the coronavirus pandemic.

The brand new research report shows:

  1. Alcohol fuels the coronavirus pandemic in different ways,
  2. the alcohol industry exploits the current public health crisis, and
  3. many governments around the world have largely failed to protect their people by using evidence-based alcohol policy solutions as part of the response to COVID-19.

The report details how alcohol fuels the pandemic on individual and societal levels. Alcohol is a risk factor for spreading infection and increasing risks of complications while also causing other medical and social problems that burden healthcare and other services. 

Alcohol-centric social contexts have played a crucial role in ‘super-spreader’ events, amplifying the coronavirus outbreak early, and later driving the resurgence after initial control.

The report also details how alcohol harm impedes effective responses to the pandemic by healthcare systems pushed to the brink. 

Alcohol contributes to over 400 varieties of illness and injury. On average, alcohol contributes to 20% of injuries and 11.5% of all non-injury emergency department presentations.

Given this evidence, it is clear that Oslo and Trondheim are doing the scientifically proven thing, using alcohol policy as tool to help contain the coronavirus and improve public health.

Norway is one of the many European countries to implement further limits on alcohol availability to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its impact. As Movendi International reported previously, many European countries moved to use alcohol policy solutions to contain the pandemic, for example through reducing alcohol availability such as through time-based alcohol sales bans..


The Local: “Covid-19: Oslo retains social lockdown including alcohol sales ban

News in English: “Government gives up its ban on drinks