COVID-19 In Iceland: Police Investigate Gathering Ban Infractions at Reykjavík Catholic Church Skip to content
Landakotskirkja, Reykjavík Catholic Church
Photo: Golli.

COVID-19 In Iceland: Police Investigate Gathering Ban Infractions at Reykjavík Catholic Church

The police had an extensive presence at a six pm mass at Landakotskirkja Catholic church, following the 1 pm Mass, which was attended by more than 50 people, RÚV reports. That goes against infection prevention regulations in place, which state that a maximum of ten people is allowed to gather. The police are currently investigating alleged infection prevention regulation infractions at the church.

The police were called to Landakotskirkja church when a Polish Language mass started at 1 pm. At that point, two services had already taken place over the day. Another Polish-language mass was scheduled for three pm, a Rosary Prayer session at 5. 30 pm, an English-language mass at 6 pm and yet another mass at 7 pm.

This is the second time in a short period that brings news of alleged infection prevention regulation infractions in the church. Around 50 people were allegedly there on Christmas Eve. According to gathering bans currently in place, no more than 10 people can gather. That also applies to religious services, excluding funerals, where up to 50 people are allowed to gather.

No funeral was scheduled at 1 pm at Landakotskirkja. According to RÚV’s count from recordings on location, you could see at least 70 people over the age of fifteen.

The Catholic Bishop David Tencer had previously posted a notice on the church’s website stating that “A new regulation of the authorities on meeting restrictions will apply until January 12, 2021. The church life and catechism in each parish depend on the situation in the parishes and is, of course, carried out in accordance with all disease control rules.” It is not known if he was in attendance during the Polish-language mass yesterday.

A police officer counted the guests in the church. He also counted the ones exiting through the main doors, stating that they were 51. He also said some remained inside and that some church guests exited through a side door. “I myself was not at mass but a police officer told me that he counted 51 in the church”, Landakotskirkja parish priest Patrick Breen stated to a reporter after speaking to the police. “He told me that 10 is the limit. But I think that if we respect the two-metre-rule and people wear a mask, it’s ok to be up to 50 people because our church is so big.” When asked if he would consider allowing ten people to attend the next mass before shuttering the door, Patrick stated: “Ten, no. We would rather close the church. We’re not forbidding people to come to church. We won’t have a mass and only allow ten people inside, I just don’t think that’s an option.”

Just before the scheduled mass at 6 pm, several police officers were at the church. According to the Capital area police force, they will look into this alleged infraction this week along with other cases where they suspect infection prevention regulations were broken. A church representative will likely be asked to give a report on the incidents, following which they will decide if they will be charged.

Infection prevention regulation infractions were a hot topic over the festive period following reports of Iceland’s Minister of Finance Bjarni Ben attending a party over the gathering ban limits on December 23d.

When asked about the incident, Assistant to the Director of Civil Protection Rögnvaldur Ólafsson stated the first and foremost, the news made him sad. He told RÚV “everyone knows why we have these rules and what we’re doing. We’re trying to dispel a global pandemic. That’s why we have these regulations. If people don’t like and feel like they don’t apply to them, they can apply to the Ministry of Health for an exemption. That’s the correct procedure. Otherwise, everyone should be following the rules and in all but a very few cases, people do.”

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