– There is an equal responsibility for the reopening work, and we expect the government to be as active in opening up society as they have been to closing it, says CEO Ole Erik Almlid in NHO to Dagbladet Børsen.
NHO’s wishes were sent to the government on 9 March, and are well rooted in all the organization’s industries, Almlid says.
See the list of all NHO’s proposals at the bottom of the case.
– We hope the wishes are well emphasized in the government’s assessment, and we believe that we will be heard.
NHO’s proposal for a reopening plan is based on two milestones:
- The time when the risk groups are fully vaccinated.
- The time when the adult population is fully vaccinated.
“The risk will be reduced gradually, and already when the most vulnerable of the risk groups have been vaccinated, softening can be considered,” writes NHO.
Vaccine pass at the top
At the top of NHO’s wish list is the introduction of a digital, universal vaccine passport, which will make it possible for those who have been vaccinated or have natural immunity to be able to document their vaccine status. This is, among other things, under consideration in the EU, and the union has opened up for Norway to participate.
– A vaccine pass will allow the country to open faster, and that is our main point, that we must now be as aware of opening as we were about to close. We must get started again as soon as possible, but of course within infection control professional soundness.
He emphasizes that it is a political assessment which rights such a passport should give, and that there are still many issues that must be taken into account with such a passport, such as privacy concerns and opportunities for forgery. However, Almlid is in no doubt whether a universal solution will be landed:
– It will be very wrong if Norway chooses to not Introduce such a passport, if others do.
Aftenposten wrote on Friday that FHI has expressed skepticism towards the government of such a passport. Among other things, because they believe that giving benefits to vaccinated people can be perceived as discriminatory, that it can lead to vaccine pressure which in turn can increase skepticism, and that the vaccine is a health measure that is problematic to link to increased freedom of economic, professional or leisure nature.
Almlid says he respects FHI’s arguments, but believes the benefits must be emphasized more than the arguments against such a passport.
– There is already a vaccine pressure today. You want people to get vaccinated. If you choose not to take it, it is a free choice, but then you have to accept if it entails any disadvantages. If a system for vaccine passes is established that is universal and safe, then we can open faster, and then the advantage is so great that it offsets the negative sides, he says.
In mid-March, Minister of Health Bent Høie told NTB that he was pleased that the EU had opened up for a discussion with Norway regarding such an arrangement.
– Then we will look at this, both whether it is suitable for Norway and what parts of this we may be involved in, said Høie.
In its reopening proposal, NHO asks the authorities to set up a group, in which NHO and LO are represented, to work on such a passport.
End of shutdowns
NHO also believes that closure as a tool should be abandoned at the latest when the risk groups have been vaccinated.
– We believe that one should then stop shutting down society, and rather use other methods that, among other things, follow strict driving rules to stay open. Rather strict than closed, he says.
He is clear that NHO does not believe that everything should be opened up at once, but that once something has opened up, one should avoid shutting down again even if the infection situation changes.
The NHO director does not want to dictate when the various changes should take place, but that there should be a clear connection with measures and how many have been vaccinated in the various groups.
– But when we have vaccinated enough, then we can not wait. It is important to remember that by shutting down, jobs end up in danger in both the short and long term. We want a balance, where reopening takes place over time, but where one moves away from closure as a tool.
Negative test requirements
NHO also believes that it should be considered whether activities can be opened to people who can point to a negative test taken shortly before the activity.
– Quick tests provide a quick answer to a lower cost, and if saliva samples are eventually used, the testing is simplified, which can be carried out without burdening the health personnel’s time, says Almlid.
He does not want to go further into which activities NHO believes should be opened with this solution and says it will be a political assessment.
NHO’s most important points:
- The reopening should take place in several stages: 1) when the risk groups have been vaccinated and 2) when the adult population has been vaccinated.
- Business closures should be abandoned as a tool, at the latest when the risk groups have been vaccinated.
- A vaccine passport should be introduced which makes it possible for those who have been vaccinated or have natural immunity to be able to document their vaccine status.
- Such a passport can facilitate opening up for increased activity in society. This is especially relevant when it comes to travel and exceptions to quarantine rules.
- Such a passport comes with several issues, so we ask that the authorities set up a working group. LO and NHO should be represented in such a group.
- It should be considered whether activities can be opened to people who may point to a negative test taken shortly before the activity.
- The education sector should be prioritized in the government’s plan for phasing out infection control measures. Pupils, apprentices and students must have their right to education fulfilled.
- Mandatory home office should be used to a more limited extent than today.
- It should be possible to make exceptions from general infection control rules where there is an alternative in an industry standard that is quality assured and approved by FHI.
- There will still be a need for entry regulation and entry quarantine to avoid import infection. It should be possible in the long term to reopen labor immigration from the EEA with the Norwegian Labor Inspection Authority’s approval scheme for quarantine accommodation and strengthened test regimes.
- We must have empirical knowledge of how the infection is spread, also in working life. Healthcare professionals should to a greater extent register where people are infected and register if it has happened in the workplace.
- Infection control measures and the use of the compensation scheme must be seen in context.
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