Drunken Norwegians storm Strömstad

Thousands of drunk Norwegians stormed the Swedish border to invade the town of Strömstad on the Swedish west coast – as they do every Maundy Thursday.

Drunken Norwegians storm Strömstad

“They come in their cars, blaring music as loudly as possible and they get drunk. Then they drive to a parking lot, continue to play music and drink,” Henrik Rörberg of the Strömstad police told TT news agency.

When it began to get dark, police had arrested around 30 individuals for drunkenness. All of them were Norwegians.

“But everyone was still relatively well-mannered: there were no incidents of assault or property damage,” Rörberg said.

The annual Norwegian pilgrimage to Strömstad on Maundy Thursday began early in the day. There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 visitors and at least 1,500 vehicles that descend upon the Swedish town of 6,000 each year. Police shut down several streets to reduce accessibility.

“But we make sure that (residents) are let through,” Rörberg said.

For the third year in a row, the city’s two state liquor shops (Systembolaget) were closed on Maundy Thursday.

“Since we started that we have noticed a major improvement. Violent crimes have been reduced and the order at the end of the day is significantly better since they can’t get more booze during the day,” Rörberg said.

In the evening, the Norwegian revelers returned to their native country, likely to continue the festivities there.

Two police patrols from the Strömstad police also travelled across the border to support their Norwegian counterparts.

Strömstad is a favorite destination for Norwegian alcohol shoppers as Swedish alcohol prices are lower than those of their Nordic neighbours. In 2008, the local city council elected to close Systembolaget on Maundy Thursday in hopes of minimizing the havoc wreaked by the Norwegian invaders.

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Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland

Norway, which has suspended the use of AstraZeneca's Covid vaccine until further notice, will send 216,000 doses to Sweden and Iceland at their request, the Norwegian health ministry said Thursday.

Norway to send 200,000 AstraZeneca doses to Sweden and Iceland
Empty vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

“I’m happy that the vaccines we have in stock can be put to use even if the AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in Norway,” Health Minister Bent Høie said in a statement.

The 216,000 doses, which are currently stored in Norwegian fridges, have to be used before their expiry dates in June and July.

Sweden will receive 200,000 shots and Iceland 16,000 under the expectation they will return the favour at some point. 

“If we do resume the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we will get the doses back as soon as we ask,” Høie said.

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the use of the AstraZeneca jab on March 11 in order to examine rare but potentially severe side effects, including blood clots.

Among the 134,000 AstraZeneca shots administered in Norway before the suspension, five cases of severe thrombosis, including three fatal ones, had been registered among relatively young people in otherwise good health. One other person died of a brain haemorrhage.

On April 15, Norway’s government ignored a recommendation from the Institute of Public Health to drop the AstraZeneca jab for good, saying it wanted more time to decide.

READ MORE: Norway delays final decision on withdrawal of AstraZeneca vaccine 

The government has therefore set up a committee of Norwegian and international experts tasked with studying all of the risks linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which is also suspected of causing blood clots.

Both are both based on adenovirus vector technology. Denmark is the only European country to have dropped the AstraZeneca
vaccine from its vaccination campaign, and said on Tuesday it would “lend” 55,000 doses to the neighbouring German state of Schleswig-Holstein.