Norwegian health officials on Friday recommended people wear face masks while using public transportation in and around the capital, Oslo, amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, its first recommendation for face coverings since the pandemic began.
Health Minister Bent Hoie told reporters at a news conference in Oslo that while it will not be mandatory, the ministry recommends face masks as an extra precaution when it is difficult to maintain a “social distance” of one meter or more on public transportation.
Hoie said the new face mask recommendation will remain in force over the next 14 days, when it will be re-evaluated.
Other countries in Europe, as they have unlocked COVID-19-related shutdowns, have introduced mandatory face mask rules for public places like shops and public transport. But until recently, Nordic countries were the exception to that rule.
In recent days, however, authorities in Denmark and Finland changed their views and now recommend their use in some circumstances.
Sweden, though, still sticks to the policy of not recommending wearing face masks, with its health agency casting doubt on their effectiveness.
As of Friday, Norway’s Institute of Public Health says it has had 9,850 reported cases, with 261 deaths.