Tougher restrictions have been re-imposed ahead of the Merchants’ Weekend bank holiday, in response to a spike in the number of domestic infections in recent days and the first COVID-19 hospitalisation since May.
Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced new rules that will go into effect at 12:00 on July 31st in a press briefing this morning (broadcast by Visir). The new restrictions are expected to be in place until August 13th.
Gatherings of over 100 people will be banned. This applies to all public spaces, including shops. Children born after 2015 are exempt from this rule.
Two-metre distancing will be mandatory in public spaces and at gatherings. If businesses cannot ensure two-metre distancing and sanitisation of common surfaces, they will be required to close.
Wearing masks will be mandatory on public transport, including planes and ferries, and in places where two-metre distancing is not possible.
There are no changes to opening hours for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues—they will close at 23:00.
There will also be changes with regard to the border screening programme. Individuals planning to stay in Iceland for longer than ten days will have to undergo a second screening several days after arrival, regardless of their nationality or the country they are travelling from. Chief Surgeon Alma Möller reminded travellers to socially distance themselves and follow the home-coming contagion rules until they receive the results of the second testing.
As reported, these measures come as health authorities struggle to contain a spate of new domestic infections. The current number of active infections is 39, the highest it has been since mid-May, and 215 individuals are in quarantine. Landspítali Hospital reported its first COVID-19 admission since May this morning; the individual is not in intensive care.
Justice Minister Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir stressed that a national state of emergency will not be reinstated at this point. She states that today’s harsher measures are the “pull of the handbrake” required to allow authorities to bring the current outbreak back under control.
For more information on Iceland’s COVID-19 response, go to covid.is.
This post was updated at 12:24.
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