Shorter opening hours for night clubs not yet justified

The Chief Epidemiologist of the Icelandic Directorate of Health says that in light of the recent increase in Covid-19 cases it could become necessary to adjust the opening hours of Icelandic night clubs.

Dr. Þórólfur Guðnason addressed journalists on Thursday in what was the first meeting held by the government‘s Covid-19 emergency response team in 49 days.

Iceland has seen a slight increase in cases in the past few days with ten positive test results registered in the period from July 11th to 14th. This is far below the peak seen last April but a worrying change for Iceland after having had a very low rate of new cases for the past month. According to the Covid.is information website some 168 individuals are currently in quarantine and 60 are in isolation with no one hospitalized with Covid-19 symptoms. A vast majority of the adult population has been fully vaccinated and there has not been a Covid-19 related death in Iceland since late May.

Mbl.is reports that a pattern has been detected where clusters of infections appear to be linked to newly arrived tourists on the one hand, and to the Reykjavik nightlife on the other. During Thursday‘s meeting the response team hinted at first introducing restrictions at the border if it would become necessary to make adjustments to the measures currently in place.

In an interview with Mbl.is Dr. Guðnason was asked how the nightlife has contributed to the uptick in new infections. He said that the virus would naturally tend to spread where people aren‘t being cautious enough, and that this seems to happen in particular in Reykjavik‘s nightclubs and in similar gatherings: „From there people return to their homes where they pass the [virus] on to their family members, their group of friends or even to their colleagues at work. This has been the typical path of new infections as of late.”

Asked how to stem spread of infections in bars and clubs Dr. Guðnason said that limiting opening hours had proven to be an effective method and would be a logical approach if needed. He also said that it is still not clear if action has to be taken but that the present rate of infections does not call for implementing stricter rules. ai@mbl.is

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