Opening Iceland’s Borders not a Deciding Factor for Tourism

From yesterday's press conference.

From yesterday's press conference. Photo/Police

Vala Hafstað

Whether Iceland’s borders will be opened is not what makes or breaks the Icelandic tourism industry, since there is next to no tourism in the world now anyway, stated Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason at a press conference yesterday.

Current rules require everyone who arrives in Iceland to stay in quarantine for 14 days. This rule is good through May 14. What happens thereafter is under consideration by the chief epidemiologist, health authorities and interest groups. Þórólfur plans to turn in a memo about what follows well before May 15.

“The chief epidemiologist must first and foremost consider public health interests,” Þórólfur stated. What will be done in other countries, he added, matters a great deal. The possibility of countries cooperating regarding travel in the near future would have to be examined closely. He added that the amount of screening for the coronavirus varies a great deal between countries.

Þórólfur stressed the importance for the public to keep up their disease prevention efforts through this year, or at least for the coming months. Handwashing, the disinfection of hands and high-touch surfaces, in addition to the avoidance of large gatherings of people and respecting the 2-meter distance between people are, he stated, the most effective measures to prevent further transmissions of the COVID-19 disease.

He emphasized that the 2-meter rule will remain in effect, although it may become harder to enforce as restrictions are eased. The plan is not to allow large public gatherings this summer to exceed 2,000 people at least through August. On May 4, public gatherings of 50 people will be allowed, instead of the current limit of 20 people.

The next easing of the rules, the date of which is to be determined, would increase the number to 100 – most likely a few weeks after May 4.

Only two new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed yesterday out of 508 samples analyzed, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,797. The number of active cases is down to 131 – the lowest since March 12. Six COVID-19 patients remained hospitalized yesterday, none of them in intensive care. For the latest figures, see covid.is.

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