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Ministry of Health

COVID 19: Cautious easing of restrictions on gatherings as from 8 February

The Minister of Health, Svandís Svavarsdóttir, has approved proposals from the Chief Epidemiologist regarding cautions relaxations to the restrictions on gathering sizes as from 8 February. The general limit on the number of persons in a gathering will continue to be 20, but with more exceptions than have been allowed up to now. The 2-metre social distancing rule and the obligation to wear face-masks remain in place. Night-clubs, bars, gaming establishments and slot-machines can open again, subject to certain conditions. Audience numbers attending stage performances will rise from 100 to 150, and religious and life-stance associations will be permitted to hold ceremonies, including funerals, attended by a maximum of 150 guests. The maximum number of customers permitted in shops will be 150, taking account of the floor area; the same will apply to visitors to museums and galleries. Fitness centres will be permitted to open their changing facilities again, and guests will be able to use their exercise equipment, subject to certain restrictions. A new regulation allowing for these changes has been issued and will remain in force until 3 March 2021.

It had been planned that no change to the previous regulation would be made before 18 February; however, in his memorandum to the minister, the Chief Epidemiologist explained that in view of the great decline in the incidence of COVID-19 in Iceland he considered an early easing of the restrictions to be justified. Nevertheless, he stressed the need for continued vigilance and caution until the stage is reached when vaccination against COVID-19 has reached more people. 

Catering establishments with alcohol licences, including restaurants, cafés, bars and night-clubs, may not remain open after 10 p.m. The same applies to gaming establishment and slot-machine saloons. Refreshments may only be served to seated guests. No new customers may be admitted after 9 p.m.  

Exemptions from the limit of 20 persons at gatherings

The following exemptions apply from the general limit of 20 persons attending gatherings; the 2-metre physical distancing rule and the obligation to wear face-masks remain in force. Restrictions on numbers do not apply to children born in or after 2005; they are exempted from the rules on gathering sizes, social distancing and the using of face-masks.

Religious and life-stance associations: Ceremonies of all types may be attended by up to 150 adults. 
Shops: A maximum of 150 customers may be admitted to each separate space that meets the conditions set regarding floor area in square metres. 
Museums and galleries: A maximum of 150 guests may be admitted to each separate space that meets the conditions set regarding floor area in square metres.
Stage performances: Audiences may consist of up to 150 persons, who shall be seated.

Health and fitness centres may open their changing facilities again, and guests may make use of the exercise equipment rooms providing that not more than 20 persons occupy each area, and they must register as participants in advance. The permitted maximum number of guests shall be half of the maximum number stated in the operating licence. All equipment shall be sterilised after use, and measures shall be taken to ensure that individual persons do not move between the defined areas. 

Strategy games, board games, recreational activities, etc.: The rules that have been in force regarding sports practices and competitions will now apply in the same way to games and activities such as chess, bridge, bingo and comparable games. 

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