Police in Norway say they responded to dozens of mass brawls and other violent clashes and disturbances as the country celebrated its first weekend of freedom from Covid-19 restrictions.
On Friday the Norwegian government took the nation's 5.3 million people by surprise by abruptly announced the end of all remaining restrictions — including the closure of nightclubs, and social distancing and capacity rules for businesses — starting at 4pm on Saturday.
"It has been 561 days since we introduced the toughest measures in Norway in peacetime," Prime Minister Erna Solberg told the nation at a press conference on Friday.
"Now the time has come to return to a normal daily life."
Massive crowds of people celebrated their sudden freedoms on Saturday afternoon by packing streets, restaurants, bars and nightclubs across the country and well into the night.
But the overexcitement led to chaotic scenes in many cities, including the capital Oslo, where police reported at least 50 fights and disturbances on Saturday night as long queues gathered outside bars, restaurants and nightclubs on their first night of trading.
There were reports of people fainting while waiting to get into pubs in the central city of Trondheim, while unrest was also reported in Bergen.
In Oslo, police also responded to reports a man was carrying a machete on a bus.
Police spokesman Rune Hekkelstrand said police were dealing with a "significantly greater workload" on Saturday than they had experienced over the summer, as celebrations began in the afternoon and well into the night.
Many have blamed the carnage on the Norwegian government's abrupt lifting of restrictions, which few in the country saw coming.
"That's exactly what I predicted would happen," Oslo nightclub manager Johan Hoeeg Haanes was reported by the Associated Press as telling Norwegian newspaper VG.
"It was a life-threatening situation in the city because they (government) didn't give us at least a few days advance notice. This was a dangerous situation, as police said all places were packed."
But outgoing Ms Solberg defended the government's decision, saying it was supported by the country's health experts.
"We shall not have strict measures unless they are professionally justified," she told VG on Saturday.
"People must be allowed to live as they wish."
More than 76 per cent of Norwegians have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose and close to 70 per cent of the country is fully vaccinated, according to official figures reported by AP.
People in Norway are not required to show their vaccination status or produce a negative Covid-result before entering venues such as nightclubs.
As part of the country's reopening, people are no longer advised against travelling to elsewhere in Europe, and culture and sports venues can return to full capacity.
However, the government continues to urge Norwegians to be vaccinated, with Ms Solberg warning Covid-19 was not gone.
"Even though everyday life is now back to normal for most people, the pandemic is not over," she said in her press conference on Friday.
"People will still get sick and, therefore, it is important that everyone gets vaccinated."