From Iceland — COVID-19 In Iceland: Restriction Easing Postponed Following Rise In Cases

COVID-19 In Iceland: Restriction Easing Postponed Following Rise In Cases

Published July 28, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by

Easing of restrictions on gathering sizes and opening times for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues will be delayed for a further two weeks due to a new spate of domestic infections.

As reported, the previous proposal was to allow bars to stay open an extra hour until midnight and to permit gatherings of up to 1000 people from August 4th. It was announced in today’s press briefing (broadcast by Visir) that the current rules banning gatherings of over 500 people and requiring bars to close at 23:00, will stay in place until at least August 18th. Þórólfur Guðnason recommended this postponement in a new memorandum to the Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir on July 27th.

This decision comes following a recent spike in domestic infections. Notably health authorities are currently tackling a group infection in Akranes involving an individual who travelled from the Balkans on July 15th and bypassed the mandatory second COVID-19 screening for returning Icelandic citizens due to an administrative mix-up. There are currently 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the town, all of whom were immigrant workers living together. The strain of virus found in the Akranes patients is the same as that found in samples taken from a patient who attended a football tournament in Reykjavik. The original source of infection remains unclear.

Chief Surgeon Alma Moller revealed that another chain of infection involves a tourist that infected a tour guide who then passed the virus onto several other individuals.

Authorities are preparing to carry out extensive screening to try and contain the new infection chains. According to Alma, the testing is likely to take place tomorrow.

Alma  also stated that all current restrictions are under examination and changes may be imposed at short notice depending on the development of the situation over the next few days. A meeting with the Health Minister will be held later today to discuss the possibility of a tighter gathering ban over the upcoming Merchant’s Weekend bank holiday (August 1st-3rd).

There are currently 24 individuals in isolation in Iceland with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Three new domestic cases were detected domestically yesterday, July 27th, but no active infections were reported from the border screening programme. The incidence rate per 100,000 over the last 14 days is 3.3 domestically 2.7 at the border.

It’s worth noting that data on the English language has been incorrect twice in the last two days. We advise double checking information by comparing it to the Icelandic language page. 

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus 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.

You can also check out our shop, loaded with books, apparel and other cool merch, that you can buy and have delivered right to your door.

Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!

Show Me More!