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Ministry of Health

COVID-19: Relaxation of restrictions on gatherings and in schools from 15 April

Svandís Svavarsdóttir Minister of Health - mynd

The general restrictions will go from 10 to 20 persons; sports, swimming and health centre activities will resume, with restrictions; as will stage art activities; and the ski areas can reopen. As for schools, the proximity limits at all school levels will go from 2 metres to 1 metre, and children in preschools and primary schools will again be able to partake in organised sports, youth and recreational activities. This is the gist of the relaxation of the disease prevention rules that were announced by the Minister of Health in the government’s meeting today, in keeping with the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist. Regulations on the changes are being drawn up and will be published later today. They are expected to remain in place for 3 weeks.

The Chief Epidemiologist’s memorandum states that the daily number of infections has diminished since the last tightening of restrictions at the borders. These included requiring sampling for children and for travellers carrying proof of vaccination or prior infection, and increased monitoring of those who are under quarantine or in isolation. This has been effective in preventing a more extensive group infection or the spread of infections. However, the Chief Epidemiologist points out that the virus has not been eliminated from the community. We must continue to be extra careful because of the extensive spread of the disease in the neighbouring countries and the new variants of the virus. The key to the relaxation of local restrictions is to take the utmost care at the borders.

The situation in the hospitals is good. Only one patient is currently hospitalised with COVID-19 and, as the Chief Epidemiologist points out, over 90% of the people 70 years and older have been vaccinated. However, he wishes to emphasise that the relaxation of restrictions should be done slowly while we are getting to grips with infections at the borders and increasing the number of vaccinated persons. 

The main changes to the common restrictions on gatherings:

Broadly, the restrictions on gatherings will be the same as the restrictions in force from 5 February. Keep in mind the importance of respecting disease prevention measures and following the rules.

  • The common restrictions on numbers will be 20 persons.
  • Public swimming pools, health centres and gyms are permitted to admit 50% of the permitted maximum number of guests, subject to the other conditions.
  • Sports training and competitions are permitted for both children and adults, both with and without physical contact, but without audiences. The maximum number of adults will be 50 persons, but the number of children will follow the same restrictions as those for schools.
  • Ski areas are permitted to admit 50% of the maximum capacity of each area.
  • Stage arts, including choir activities, are permitted with up to 50 persons together on stage and an audience of 100 seated persons in each compartment, subject to the other conditions.
  • The maximum number of people taking part in the activities of religious and philosophical organisations will continue to be 30; however, 100 persons will be permitted at funerals.
  • All shops will be permitted to receive 5 customers per every 10 m2, however no more than 100 persons at a time, in addition to 20 employees in the same space as the customers.
  • Clubs, bars, amusement arcades and slot machines are permitted to open, subject to the same restrictions as restaurants serving alcohol.
  • Practical driving lessons and flight training with an instructor are permitted.  

Changes to school activities:

The Ministry of Health is working on a new regulation on restrictions to school activities as of 15 April, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Broadly speaking, the current rules will remain in force, except that the proximity limits will be 1 metre instead of 2 metres, and children in preschools and primary schools will be permitted to take part in sports, youth and recreational activities.

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