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Ministry of Health

Covid-19: Substantial easing of restrictions on gatherings from 25 May

The maximum number of people allowed to gather together will be raised to 150 and the face-mask and 2-m social distancing rules are to be relaxed. Restrictions on numbers permitted in swimming pools and bathing facilities, skiing facilities, camp sites and museums will be lifted; the rules applying to fitness centres will be eased, with a maximum of 150 persons allowed in each separate area. The maximum number of people in the audience at a stage performance, or guests seated in a hall, will rise from the current number of 150 in each restricted area to 300, and the sale of refreshments during the interval will be allowed. Restaurants will be permitted to stay open until 11 p.m.; in shops, face-masks will no longer be obligatory and the maximum limit of 200 customers at a time will fall away. These are the highlights of the new anti-Covid measures that are due to take effect on Tuesday, 25 May according to a decision by the Minister of Health, based on recommendations from the Chief Epidemiologist. The regulation setting out the changes is to remain in force until 16 June.

In his memorandum to the minister, the Chief Epidemiologist stressed that even though few new infections have been detected recently, the corona virus has not been eliminated in Iceland. Consequently, it is necessary to proceed with caution when relaxing the preventive measures until a larger number of people (c. 220,000, or 60-70% of the population) have received at least one vaccination. This point is expected to be reached in the second half of June. Principal changes on 25 May:

Below are the main changes that are due to take effect on 25 May.

It should be noted that the current requirements regarding the registration of guests and customers will remain in force.

The general restriction on numbers at gatherings will rise from 50 to 150 persons. Restrictions will not apply to children born in or after 2015.

Social distancing: The 2-metre social distancing rule will remain in force except in restaurants, events where guests are seated, in schools and in swimming pools and bathing facilities; there, the social distancing requirement will be 1 metre.

Face masks: The requirement to wear face masks will be relaxed; for example, it will be abolished in shops and workplaces. The requirement will apply only at events where guests or audience members are seated, i.e. at stage performances, in cinemas, in church, at sporting events and other similar gatherings. Face-masks must also be worn by those performing services where proximity is inevitable, such as hairdressing salons, massage facilities and similar places. Healthcare facilities may make more stringent demands regarding the use of face masks.

Swimming pools, bathing facilities, camp sites, skiing facilities, galleries and museums may admit the full number of guests for which they are licensed instead of the 75% rule applying hitherto.

Fitness centres may admit the full number of guests for which they are licensed instead of the 75% rule applying hitherto; however, this shall be done in such a way that not more than 150 guests occupy each separate area at a time.

Events with seated audiences: The maximum number of persons in each restricted area at such events is now raised from 150 to 300. Refreshments, including alcoholic beverages, may be served during intervals. The face-mask requirement applies at these events.

Shops: Where there is currently a limit of 200 customers, no such maximum shall apply. However, the rule on the number of customers relative to the floor area of the shop shall remain in force.

Restaurants: The opening time of restaurants is extended by one hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Guests shall have left the premises by midnight.

Schools: The regulations imposing restrictions on activities in schools is repealed. Instead, the general rules limiting the size of gatherings shall apply in schools. 


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