At a press conference today, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, and the Minister of Justice introduced steps to lift the restrictions currently in place in Iceland due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Minister of Health announced her decision to ease restrictions on larger gatherings and limitations on schools and preschools.
As of 4 May, larger gatherings will be limited to 50 people, instead of 20, and service providers, such as hair salons and dentists, will be able to open their doors again. High schools and universities will reopen with certain limitations, while elementary schools and preschools will return to normal. The decision is based on the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist.
More than 1700 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Iceland, and over 100 people have been hospitalized due to the virus. In recent days, the rate of new infections has slowed. The outbreak is thought to have reached its peak and is now on moving down, as a result of to wide-ranging containment and mitigation measures. The prevalence of the virus among the general population seems to be about 1%, according to the large-scale screening undertaken by the biotech company deCode. It remains necessary to maintain a certain level of restrictions, in order to prevent a second wave of infections. Thus, the Chief Epidemiologist proposes measures will be lifted incrementally and reviewed every three to four weeks.
Main changes from 4 May
Limits on large gatherings will go from 20 to 50 people. The two-meter social distancing rule will still be in effect.
Schools and preschools will operate normally.
High schools and universities will reopen, but the 50-person limit and two-meter social distancing measures apply.
Various services: Hair salons, massage parlours, physical therapy clinics, beauty parlours, museums, and other similar services can reopen, but are to maintain the two-meter social distancing rule as possible.
Healthcare: Healthcare and dental practices (elective surgery excluded) will resume.
Organized sports activities for children are permitted outdoors with limitations:
- Groups will be limited to no more than 50 children.
- Participants are to keep two meters apart as possible, especially in older age groups.
Other organized sports activities are permitted outdoors with limitations:
- No more than four individuals can train or play together.
- Touching is prohibited, and individuals are to stay two meters apart.
- The use of shared equipment should be limited, and all equipment sanitized after every use.
The following measures will remain in effect:
- Exemptions for economically significant companies will remain unchanged.
- As before, grocery stores and pharmacies can allow up to 100 people to enter their establishments simultaneously.
- Swimming pools and gym facilities will remain closed.
- Nightclubs, bars, and similar businesses will remain closed.
- The Directorate of Health’s instructions regarding the postponement of elective surgeries will remain in effect.