Stricter COVID Restrictions Take Effect at Midnight

face mask

Stricter social distancing measures and limits on gatherings will take effect tonight, Sunday, October 4, at midnight, RÚV reports. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir released the full guidelines today, the biggest change being that the maximum number of people who can gather together is 20, with some exceptions.

In general, only twenty people will be allowed to be in a public space at once. Exceptions will be made, however, for secondary schools and colleges, where 25 students will be allowed in a classroom together. Funerals will be allowed to have 50 guests in attendance, and larger stores will be allowed 100 customers at once. Masks are required whenever it isn’t possible to maintain a distance of one metre between people who do not share a household.

Bars, clubs, slot machine parlours, and gyms will be closed. Pools will be allowed to remain open but must operate at half capacity.

Spectators will not be allowed at athletic events, but theatre performances will be allowed to continue in spaces with a maximum of 100 audience members and mandatory mask usage.

Infection numbers ‘are frightening’

“We went over the chief epidemiologist’s memo,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told reporters after a meeting with her ministers on Saturday afternoon. “He proposed very strict rules to combat the spread of the virus. And I think we were all shocked by the infection numbers today—they’re frightening.” At time of writing, 652 people were in isolation and 1,608 in quarantine. Thirteen people have currently been hospitalized and three are in intensive care. On Friday alone, 61 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed and 39 of these individuals were not in quarantine.

“There’s also the fact that we’ve seen in recent days that far too many of those who are diagnosed [with COVID-19] are not in quarantine. Which tells us that this is a very widespread community infection. Which is why the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendations to the Minister of Health are all about putting in place significantly tougher measures.”

It is presumed that the new restrictions will remain in place for at least two weeks.

Four Taxi Drivers Charged with Reckless Driving

Taxis at the airport

Four capital-area taxi drivers were charged with serious traffic violations on Saturday night, RÚV reports. Police conducted targeted surveillance of taxis after some particularly egregious driving was caught on traffic cameras downtown. These cameras caught multiple incidences of taxis driving on sidewalks, down pedestrian-only streets, stopped in the middle of intersections, and generally obstructing traffic.

Police gave verbal warnings to a number of taxi drivers on Saturday night and charged four with serious traffic violations. According to one pedestrian who spoke with police who were patrolling downtown, a taxi driver had driven behind them on a pedestrian-only street and yelled aggressively at them to get out of the way.

In a statement released about the incidents, police remind taxi drivers that they are subject to the same laws as other drivers. It is illegal to park or stop a vehicle on the sidewalk, they point out, to drive down pedestrian-only streets, or to obstruct traffic more generally. Specially designated parking is available for taxis in two places downtown, the statement continues, and if those are full, taxis must utilize regular nearby car parks.