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Workplace advice, including colleges and universities

Published Updated

The article provides advice for workplaces, including colleges and universities.

The article provides advice for workplaces, including colleges and universities.


On 12th March 2020, the Norwegian Directorate of Health decided to close childcare centres/nurseries and educational institutions. Update 24th March 2020: The government has decided that the measure from the 12th March is extended up to and including 13th April 2020. The measures may be extended.

How is COVID-19 transmitted

Preventing infection

As for all other infections, if you are sick you should stay at home and not come to work / study, even if you have mild symptoms. Workplaces and educational institutions should heighten hygiene measures and measures to limit contact between staff / students. Co-operation with the occupational health service / student health service for local implementation of measures is recommended.

Hygiene measures

Good cough etiquette and hand hygiene reduce transmission of all respiratory tract infections, including the new coronavirus. Management at workplaces and educational institutions should ensure that staff / students are familiar with the measures below and have had adequate training.

  • Washing with soap and water is recommended after coughing / sneezing, after visiting the toilet, before preparing food, before meals and otherwise for visibly dirty hands. Alcohol-based disinfectants are effective against coronavirus and are an option if handwashing facilities are unavailable. Note that alcohol-based disinfection is not effective with visibly dirty hands, so wash hands first.
  • Hand washing or hand disinfection should be available at entrances, in canteens and all places that serve food.
  • Avoid touching your face or hands.
  • It is recommended to have tissues / paper towels and hand hygiene facilities available for staff / students who cough or sneeze. If this is unavailable, cough or sneeze into the crook of the elbow.
  • Toilets and washbasins, door handles and other frequently touched items should be cleaned frequently. Ethanol-based disinfectants can be used on visibly clean surfaces (such as handles, keyboards, telephones etc.), otherwise thorough cleaning with ordinary detergents or household bleach is recommended.

Limit of contact between staff /students

  • Workplaces and educational establishments should, where possible, arrange for videoconferencing and the opportunity for remote working / distance learning, flexible working hours, staggered lunch breaks in canteens and avoid unnecessary gatherings and meetings. 
  • Avoid shaking hands and hugging in the workplace /educational institution 
  • Employees/staff should be encouraged not to stand or sit close to each other, and maintain a distance of 1 metre from each other.
  • Staff/ students should avoid using public transport if possible. The exception is people with society critical functions who need to get to work.  

On the 12th March 2020, the Norwegian Directorate of Health introduced a ban against and closure of events and facilities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in order to maintain essential health and care services.

Continuity planning

Companies / educational institutions should prepare for employees to be absent from work with suspected or confirmed illness, or in quarantine for 14 days after close contact with infected people. 

Travel

On 14th March 2020, the Government advised against non-essential travel to all countries.  The travel advice applies in the first instance until 14th April. An extended quarantine decision was also announced for all travellers arriving in Norway.  They should be in home quarantine for 14 days from their arrival in Norway, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. This applies to travellers who have returned home since the 27th February (retroactive).  

Advice after confirmed COVID-19 cases

Workplaces and educational institution should have a plan of what to do if staff/ students become sick. Staff/students are asked to inform their employee / educational institution if they, or someone in their family, has confirmed COVID-19

If an employee or student is diagnosed with COVID-19, the municipal health service will follow up the individual and all contacts according to current guidelines, to ensure proper health care and contact tracing.

For advice for staff/students who may be exposed to infection, or suspect they are sick see

For more advice on how to prepare a workplace or study site for coronavirus disease, see the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines:

Advice for specific sectors

Advice about exemptions from home quarantine for employees in critical functions to society

Separate regulations have been issued about quarantine requirements for close contacts of confirmed cases with COVID-19, and for quarantine after traveling abroad.

The regulations allow for possible exemptions from quarantine obligation for people who are essential to safeguard the operation of critical functions in society. Use of the exemption must be clarified with the corporate management.

It is emphasised that exemption from quarantine duty only applies while at work and when travelling to and from work. During leisure time, quarantine still applies. Do not use public transport to and from work.

Before making a quarantine exemption, consider the following possibilities:

  • Reallocating personnel from other parts of the business.
  • Downgrading activity.

If this is not sufficient to safeguard operations, there should be a local assessment of who should be called in to work if necessary.

Examples of employees who may be allowed to work in the quarantine period:

  • Employees who are in quarantine after travel abroad.
  • Employees who are at the end of the quarantine period (the average incubation period for COVID-19 is 5-6 days).
  • Employees who are least exposed to infection, for example, were close contacts only the day before a confirmed case developed symptoms.

The following should not be exempt from the quarantine obligation:

  • Employees with respiratory symptoms or fever. They must be isolated and not go to work.
  • Employees who, over time, have had close contact with a confirmed case with symptoms.
  • Employees who have a household member / partner with confirmed COVID-19.

People who work during the quarantine period shall:

  • Immediately leave work if they develop symptoms of infection.
  • Keep a distance from employees and others.
  • Organise work so that close contact with employees and others is limited.
  • Avoid preparing and handling food for others.
  • Be extra careful with cough etiquette and hand hygiene.

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