‘Presidential Decree’ Prohibits Visits

Vala Hafstað

We’ve all had to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and change our behavior accordingly – including Icelandic President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and his family.

Guðni’s mother, Margrét, who turns 80 this spring, is a retired teacher, living in Garðabær, south of Reykjavík. To protect her from getting infected with the coronavirus, family members are not visiting her these days.

Guðni jokingly tells Morgunblaðið he has issued two “presidential decrees” regarding visits to his mother.

At the early stages of the pandemic, he sent his family members the following message by email:

New Rules Regarding Visits to Mom/Grandma/Aunt:

  1. Don’t stop seeing her completely, but see her less often rather than more often.
  2. Anyone who comes for a visit must begin by going to the bathroom and washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, after which they must apply a disinfectant to their hands.
  3. No touching, handshakes or hugs.
  4. Mom/Grandma/Aunt sits in her chair, everybody else on the couch or in a chair, at a distance of at least a meter.
  5. Avoid touching things she uses, such as coffee cups.
  6. As you know, Mom/Grandma/Aunt catches every cold, as well as the annual flu. This time, we’re taking it seriously. This is a presidential decree!”

Five days later, March 14, Guðni updated the rules and sent them out by email:

“All visits to Mom/Grandma/Aunt are prohibited. Patti will bring her food and other necessities. Should anyone want to bring her something special, he or she must contact Patti.

Presidential decree number two is hereby in effect.




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