Here in Singapore, we are well cared for. The government has led a consistent effort to keep the pandemic under control. In a city state with high connectivity and population density, the risks are indisputable. The vaccine rollout is well underway, and, just as we have come to expect of Singapore, well organised, efficient, and friendly. Even so, the fight against the virus is far from over. New restrictions, increased social distancing, and travel quarantine of 21 days, are among the latest measures.
For Norwegians, the celebration of our National Day on the 17th of May is a highlight of the year. In any normal year, we would crowd streets and squares, cram into cafes and ice cream parlours, march to horn music with scores of kids, sing and shout, hug and kiss. This year will be different, both here in Singapore and in Norway. Even the very modest celebration in the Seaman’s Church had to be called off.
In this situation, we need to find other ways of gathering and upholding the spirit of “17 May”. After all, the celebration is not only about fun and games, but also about a people showing their true colours in times of crisis. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson expressed it well in our national anthem: “Også vi, når det blir krevet, for dets fred slår leir”.
We are not called to arms - we are asked to avoid moving around and reduce mingling. We need to socialise in small groups or through other means, like we have become used to over the last year. Staying put is heroic! Thousands of internet memes have caught the essence of this in all its absurdity.
I am hopeful that we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, recent setbacks notwithstanding. This will pass, and our hopes are now set on 2022.
On behalf of the entire Team Norway, I wish you all a wonderful National Day! God 17. mai!