The Minister of Health has announced changes to the measures against COVID-19 in Iceland taking effect on 18 March; these are based largely on proposals submitted by the Chief Epidemiologist. The changes mainly entail stricter demands regarding the registration of guests attending events and preventive measures to be taken at organised events. More stringent requirements are also made where buffet meals are served. The regulation setting out these changes is to remain in force until 9 April 2021.
In his memorandum to the minister, the Chief Epidemiologist pointed out that while Iceland has achieved good results in the fight against COVID-19, with a regime of restrictions that is probably less rigid than that in most other European countries, it is important to maintain vigilance so as to maintain this success. Since 19 February 8 individuals have tested positive for the virus, 4 of whom were in quarantine. During the past seven days, 5 people have tested positive with the ‘British’ strain of the virus (B.1.1.7), which is believed to be more transmissible than other lineages and also to cause more serious infection in children. The Chief Epidemiologist’s view is that this is not the time to ease the restrictions on gatherings in Iceland; he recommends that they remain unchanged for the most part.
Changes taking effect on 18 March
All guests to be registered. At all events, such as ceremonies held by religious or life-stance associations, stage performances and other cultural or sporting events, conferences, lectures and comparable events, guests shall sit in numbered seats and each guest’s name, ID number and telephone number shall be recorded.
No refreshments during intervals. No refreshments may be sold or offered during intervals in performances, competitions or other events, and guests shall be asked to remain in their seats.
No mixing of persons between restricted areas. As hitherto, up to 200 persons attending events may sit in the same designated area. Before and after the event, the organisers shall ensure that not more than 50 people occupy the same area, observing the 2-metre distancing rule; where this is not possible, face-masks shall be worn.
Buffets. As hitherto, food may be served in buffets, but guests shall be obliged to sanitise their hands before going up to the buffet table and also after doing so. They shall also wear face-masks and observe the 2-metre distancing rule when approaching and leaving the table.