COVID-19: Significant easing of domestic restrictions as of 29 January
The general assembly limit will be 50 people, the one-metre rule will be in effect, bars and clubs are allowed to open again, and opening times of licenced premises will be extended by two hours. Events for up to 500 seated people will be allowed if certain requirements are met. Restrictions in schools will mostly remain unchanged. This is the substance of the amendments to the regulation on social gatherings that enters into force on January 29 by decision of the Minister of Health.
The Minister of Health presented the intended changes in a government meeting this morning. They are based on the attached memorandum from the Chief Epidemiologist to the minister. It also contains a plan for further easing of restrictions over the next six weeks.
Changes as of January 29:
- General restrictions on gatherings will go from 10 to 50 people.
- The social distancing rule goes from 2 metres to 1 metre.
- Mask requirements remain unchanged, but take account of the social distancing rule.
- Pools, spas, gyms and ski areas will be allowed to operate at 75% capacity.
- Sport competitions will continue to be permitted with up 50 participants and spectators will be allowed again.
- The maximum number of people in stores will be 500.
- Nightclubs, bars, arcades and slot machine halls will be allowed to open again.
- Restaurants, including bars and nightclubs, will be allowed to let guests in until 23:00, but guests must have left the establishment by midnight.
- Sit-down events can have up to 500 guests per compartment, a one-metre social distancing rule shall be observed between unrelated parties, and a mask requirement shall be in effect. Rapid tests will not be required.
- Restrictions in schools will remain unchanged, although they will be adapted to the aforementioned easing measures as applicable.
- The regulation will apply for just under four weeks or until 24 February.
The minister deviated slightly from the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist, i.e. by having the new rules enter into force earlier, extending the opening times of licenced establishments by two hours instead of one and raising the maximum number of people allowed in stores.
Plan for the easing of restrictions and its premises
In his memorandum, the Chief Epidemiologist presents a plan for the lifting of public measures, which he deems appropriate to implement in steps. The Chief Epidemiologist emphasizes that during the easing of restrictions, it can be expected that the number of infections in the community will increase temporarily, which can both have the effect of increasing the number of people who fall seriously ill and also disrupt the operations of many businesses due to employee illness. This may create an emergency in many workplaces that will require special remedies and businesses will have to be prepared to operate for some time with a reduced number of staff members. It is important to keep in mind that the pandemic will not be over until herd immunity is reached, which might happen in around two months. The Chief Epidemiologist believes that in view of the above it is prudent to assume that all restrictions will be lifted by mid-March 2022 as long as the current presumptions hold, i.e. new variants of the virus will not emerge and there will be no increase in serious illness that will put excessive strain on the health system or too many absences due to illness in various businesses that will lead to emergencies.
The Minister of Health and the government will base further easing of restrictions on the plan, and the situation will be evaluated regularly, in particular the pressure on the health system, and appropriate measures will be taken in accordance with the situation. This may mean that restrictions will be lifted earlier than planned or postponed if the circumstances change, such as due to new variants of the virus.
- The Chief Epidemiologist’s memorandum from 26 January 2022 on the lifting of public restrictions due to COVID-19.