COVID-19 Restrictions Eased in Iceland

Vala Hafstað

COVID-19 restrictions were eased in Iceland at midnight, Morgunblaðið reports. For the most part, the one-meter social distancing rule remains in effect, and face masks must be worn where the one-meter rule cannot be respected.

The new regulation raises the maximum number of people allowed to gather from 200 to 500, and allows gatherings of up to 1,500 people as long as guests present the negative results of rapid COVID-19 tests, taken no more than 48 hours prior to the event. At such large gatherings, guests are not required to be seated, but those who stand must wear face masks if the one-meter social distancing rule cannot be respected.

Grade- and secondary schools may hold gatherings of up to 1,500 people where rules about social distancing or the use of face masks do not apply. The results of negative rapid tests, though, must be presented.

In addition, the new regulation extends the operating hours of bars and restaurants by one hour, permitting them to stay open until 1 am. They may receive guests until midnight, and everyone must leave the premises by 1 am.

The new rules will remain in effect through October 6. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced them following a government meeting yesterday. When asked why the easing of restrictions didn’t go further, she responded,

“We, of course, went very far at the beginning of July [in terms of easing restrictions], and that’s what our neighboring countries are presently doing. We have experienced a huge wave [of COVID-19], which is why we find it indefensible for us to again lift all restrictions at once, because then we could end up in the same situation with a fully vaccinated population.”

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