COVID-19: Stricter measures, a 50 person restriction on the number of people at gatherings, and a substantial vaccination push
The main reason for these stricter measures is the sharp rise in infections in the country and the resulting growing strain on the health-care system, contact tracing team and quarantine centres. The situation has caused a considerable disruption to various services at the National University Hospital, as well as a lack of staff. The Chief Epidemiologist’s memorandum to the Minister states that the Akureyri Hospital is under growing strain and the same applies to many other health care institutions. The contact tracing team’s activities have been disrupted, quarantine centres are filling up fast and the strain on the Medical Hotline and health care clinics has increased because of the pandemic. The Chief Epidemiologist says that strict disease-prevention measures are necessary while efforts are underway to reach widespread immunity through society through the booster vaccinations that have already started. The plan is to invite around 160,000 people all over the country to receive booster vaccinations before the end of the year.
Restrictions to take place at midnight, 13 November:
- The general restriction on numbers will be 50 persons: That number does not include children born in 2016 and after. This means that no more than 50 persons are allowed to gather, neither indoors nor outdoors, in neither public nor private spaces.
- Social distancing between strangers will be 1 metre: Face masks must be used if this distancing can not be respected. However, sports involving physical contact will continue to be allowed for both children and adults. Pre-school children and pupils in elementary school grades 1 through 4 will be exempt from the 1 metre rule.
- Use of face masks: The use of face masks is required if the 1 metre rule can not be respected, e.g. in shops, on public transport and in activities that require close proximity, e.g. in hair salons. Children born in 2006 and after will be exempt from using face masks.
- Large gatherings allowed subject to using rapid tests: Events with up to 500 persons in each disease prevention compartment may be held if all visitors born before 2015 can present a negative result from a rapid test that must be no older than 48 hours. If the 1 metre rule can not be respected, all guests shall wear face masks, with the exception of children born in 2006 and after. The 1 metre rule can be waived for sit-down events, in which case face masks must be worn. Guests in allocated seats must be registered by name, personal identification number and telephone number. Refreshments may not be sold during intermissions. School entertainment events in primary and secondary schools where rapid tests are used are exempt from the 1 metre rule and face mask requirement.
- Swimming pools, spas, gyms and ski areas may receive up to 75% of their maximum capacity according to the conditions of their operating licence. That number does not include children born in 2016 and after.
- Opening hours of restaurants, etc. Restaurants and other venues that are permitted to serve alcohol are forbidden to receive customers after 22.00 h (10 p.m.) and all customers must have left the venue by 23.00 h (11 p.m.). Alcoholic beverages may only be served to seated customers. All customers must be registered. Private gatherings in venues that are permitted to serve alcohol must end no later than 23.00 h (11 p.m.).
- Shops and museums: The general 50 person restriction, 1 metre rule and face mask requirement apply to shops and museums. However, 5 extra customers may be received per each 10 m2, however no more than up to a total of 500 persons.
- The general 50 person restriction applies to school activities, except for children born in 2016 and after. Children born in 2006 and after will be exempt from using face masks.
- Pre-school staff members are not required to wear face masks when interacting with pre-school children.
- Elementary school teachers are permitted to remove their face masks after the children have sat down in their classrooms.
- Upper secondary school students and teachers are permitted to remove their face masks after they have sat down in their classrooms.
- Mixing between school groups is permitted at all school levels.