Closing the Country Still an Option

From the press conference yesterday.

From the press conference yesterday. mbl.is/Eggert

Vala Hafstað

The option to close Iceland due to the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is constantly being reassessed, in accordance with new risk assessments, mbl.is reports. A task group from the national police commissioner’ s office believes authorities have the right to close the country if public health is at stake. This was revealed at a press conference yesterday.

“In that regard, legal provisions will be examined, such as provisions regarding disease prevention, aviation and foreigners, ” the task force states in a report. “It is essential for the response to an epidemic to be in accordance with risk assessments, and the impact of the response has to be measured against the impact of the epidemic. Should the country be closed, Icelanders abroad will not be able to come home (unless special transportation be arranged), and imports and exports will be disrupted.”

The task force has looked into the possibility of limiting the arrival of tourists to Iceland from risk areas and concludes there are various options available.

Keeping your hands clean is essential in preventing the spread …

Keeping your hands clean is essential in preventing the spread of the virus. mbl.is/Kristinn Magnússon

Scanning for the disease at borders appears not to be a viable option and has not proven effective in other countries, according to the group.

The reaction of Icelandic authorities is in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the chief of epidemiology and police authorities.

“The World Health Organization has the authority to give instructions regarding travel restrictions, in accordance with international health regulations to prevent the spread of disease. The situation is constantly being reassessed in Iceland on a day-to-day basis, with regard to the latest updates,” the task force states.

The group lists possible actions to contain the spread of the virus, including placing people suspected of being infected in quarantine or possibly isolation. Denying people visas or refusing them entry into the country is another option, if public safety is at stake, which could prove hard to do unless other countries within the EU or Schengen do the same.

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