The Ministry of Health has announced the outlines for a significant easing of restrictions on gatherings. The new measures take effect on 25 May. Like all prior measures, they are in adherence to the recommendations issued by the Chief Epidemiologist.
Restrictions on gatherings and some activities have been in place, with amendments, since 16 March. The restrictions were tightened on 23 March, and the first phase of easing took effect on 4 May, with swimming pools re-opening on 18 May.
Highlights of the changes taking effect on 25 May:
- Gatherings of up to 200 people are allowed
- Gyms can be re-opened with restrictions on maximum capacity (50% of normal capacity)
- All restaurants and bars can be open but must close by 11 PM
The Icelandic health authorities have emphasized that the "2-meter rule", allowing the distance between individuals, will be interpreted more as a societal norm and courtesy for individuals who are vulnerable or have a preference for such distancing.
In line with this, businesses are encouraged to offer their patrons the opportunity to maintain a distance of 2 meters from other people whenever practicable. In venues such as cinemas and theatres, proprietors are requested to offer at least some portion of their guests seating where the 2-meter rule can be applied.
As of 24 May, only three known cases of COVID-19 infections are known to be active in Iceland. A total of 1 804 people have been diagnosed since the start of the outbreak. 1 791 (99.3%) are cured, and ten are deceased. Only six new cases have been diagnosed in May. The Chief Epidemiologists stated in his memorandum to the Minister that the first phase in the easing of restrictions does not seem to have led to a rise in infections.
These new measures will remain in effect until 21 June.
The Minister of Justice has also announced that today the department of civil protection and emergency management will lower the alert level from emergency phase to alert phase.