OSLO, Norway – Norway, which says it has the new coronavirus under control, on Monday, April 20, started opening up pre-schools after a month-long closure, an AFP correspondent reported.
Authorities have said the reopening was possible because children have been less affected by COVID-19, although some parents have expressed reservations over the decision.
"Going to pre-school is safe," Education Minister Guri Melby has repeated leading up to the reopening.
However, as in neighboring Denmark, a Facebook group called "My child should not be a guinea pig for COVID-19" has been created and an online petition objecting to the reopening has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures. (READ: U.N. chief calls to protect children from coronavirus consequences)
According to a poll published by broadcaster NRK over the weekend, 24% of parents did not want to send their children back to pre-school and 13% said they were unsure.
Pre-schools will have to ensure certain health protocols.
In particular, children under the age of 3 will have to be in groups of 3 under one adult's supervision. Those between 3 and 6 years old can stay in groups of 6.
Along with Austria, Denmark, and Germany, Norway is among the first countries to start easing restrictions, which were announced on March 12. (READ: Europe, New York see progress in coronavirus battle)
According to the Norwegian roadmap, physiotherapists and psychologists are also allowed to return to work on Monday, with hairdressers and dermatologists also opening this week.
Younger children in primary schools will start returning to classrooms on April 27.
While many shops have been allowed to remain open, bars and most restaurants will continue to keep their doors closed.
Cultural and sporting events will remain banned until at least June 15.
The Nordic country, home to some 5.4 million people, has registered 7,068 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 154 deaths.
Over the last few days the country has observed a drop in new admissions of coronavirus patients to hospitals, and in early April the government announced it considered the outbreak to be "under control."
In addition to the many restrictions and regulations that remain in place, Norwegian authorities are now relying on tracing via an app and widespread testing to contain the epidemic. – Rappler.com