Gatherings of up to 1000 will be allowed and entertainment venues will be permitted to open until midnight from August 4th, provided the government approves Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason’s most recent recommendations for easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Þórólfur submitted his proposal for the next phase of relaxing restrictions to Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir on July 21st. The current measures require venues to close at 23:00 and ban gatherings of over 500. Þórólfur believes that Iceland is ready to begin easing these rules because the “screening at the border is now in good shape and the opening of the border has not lead to an increase in domestic infections”, according to a government statement.
At the time of writing there are 8 individuals in isolation and 91 in quarantine. There have been three domestic infections this month, all of which were reported on July 2nd. Since border screening began on June 15th, 19 active infections have been detected.
The timing of the next phase significant because July 31st to August 3rd is a major public holiday in Iceland: Merchants’ Weekend. The changes to COVID-19 restrictions were originally intended to happen before the bank holiday, but Þórólfur pushed back the date after two incidences of group domestic infections and concerns over the border screening programme. The extension to the current restrictions has forced the cancellation of several events including the Westman Islands’ Þjóðhátíð music festival, but it’s hoped the measure will prevent further group infections over the long weekend.
The Health Minister has approved the continuation of current restrictions until August 4th and will shortly publish a memorandum confirming the changes to the gathering ban and permitted opening hours for venues.
For more information about Iceland’s COVID-19 outbreak visit covid.is.
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