Norway eases COVID-19 restrictions in capital area

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FILE PHOTO: People walk on the street in Oslo

OSLO (Reuters) - The Norwegian government will on Thursday lift all the extra restrictions imposed on the capital region to stop the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, the government said on Tuesday.

It will now be up to local authorities to decide whether to have local restrictions. If they so choose, essential stores located inside shopping centres could reopen and restaurants could again serve alcohol with food.

The affected municipalities now have a better overview of the situation and government restrictions are no longer deemed necessary, Health Minister Bent Hoeie said, citing advice from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI).

"It is not necessarily so that ending national measures means that they will easy in the municipality you live in," Hoeie added.

Oslo and its surrounding region in January saw an outbreak of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, first identified in Britain, which prompted stricter measures including the closure of all non-essential stores for the first time in the pandemic.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Gwladys Fouche)