From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: Four Active Cases, More Changes On Monday

COVID-19 In Iceland: Four Active Cases, More Changes On Monday

Published May 20, 2020

Poppy Askham
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One new case was detected by deCODE genetics yesterday, meaning here are currently four active infections in Iceland. Just five cases have been reported so far this month.

Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason expects Iceland to reach the milestone of no active infections in the coming days, Frettablaðið reports. Þórólfur was unable to provide details about the patients’ conditions, but none of them are ill enough to require hospital treatment currently.

Although Þórólfur stressed that there is no guarantee that Iceland will be free from COVID-19 imminently, the low  infection rate and number of active cases seem good indicators that his prediction may prove correct.

What is happening on Monday?

On Monday May 25th the next stage of relaxing COVID-19 measures in Iceland  will begin. Þórólfur Guðnason is due to present his proposal for the changes to the health minister imminently. Assuming the proposal is accepted, here’s what you will be able to do again from Monday:

  • Gather in groups of up to 200 people
  • Go to a bar, club or arcade (but only until 23:00)
  • Hit the gym
  • Visit a zoo

Þórólfur also recommends that the government tweak its two-metre rule. Greater emphasis would be placed on enforcing distancing in places that provide essential services such as pharmacies and police stations. Whereas guidance could be loosened for businesses offering non-essential services such as entertainment venues. In these locations it would be up to individuals to a greater extent to observe two-metre distancing wherever possible.

Nurses’ pay dispute

In related news, two out of every three members of the Icelandic Nurses’ Association would be willing to strike according to a recent survey. The union is currently locked in a battle over wages with the state, nurses have been working without a long-term contract for over a year. Almost half the union’s members are willing to go on a general strike and 32.5% would participate in an overtime strike according to the survey.

As reported, negotiations were forced to restart when nurses voted against a proposed pay deal in April. Although many members accepted plans to shorten the working week, the proposal was ultimately rejected as it did not raise salaries sufficiently.

The union hopes that the survey results will strengthen its position in ongoing talks with government officials, but stresses that it is too early to say whether a strike will be called, RUV reports.

Note: Due to the effect COVID-19 is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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