Oslo officials to temporarily suspend the traditional celebrations for high school seniors

People queue on the City Hall quay to take boats to the islands in the Oslo Fjord as restrictions due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak limit the number of passengers on the ferries to 50, in Oslo, Norway May 31, 2020. NTB Scanpix/Stian Lysberg Solum

Officials in the Norwegian capital of Oslo have decided to temporarily suspend the traditional celebrations for high school seniors who drive around in buses and drink, after at least 540 people are quarantined because of a coronavirus outbreak tied to the festivities.

Oslo and Norway’s top medical authority have “made an urgent decision to stop all celebrations for a week,” the city said, according to Norwegian news agency NTB.

The celebrations, known as russ in Norwegian, are a major cultural phenomenon across the Scandinavian country. Participants wear colored overalls and matching caps, with some buying a used vehicle — a bus, a van or a car — which they scribble on with paint and drive around in. Drunkenness and public disturbances are often linked to the celebration.

Jorunn Thaulow, responsible for the infection tracing team in the western part of Oslo, told the Avisa Oslo newspaper that most of the cases are related to five buses used by the partying students. She says it’s affecting almost all high schools in the western part of Oslo, which has nearly 700,000 residents.

Norway soon will begin to vaccinate people between 18 and 44.

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