COVID-19 in Iceland: Tightened Restrictions Take Effect Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Tightened Restrictions Take Effect

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

mask use social distancing
Photo: Golli.

Tightened infection prevention restrictions are in full effect today, requiring mask use when a one-metre social distancing rule can not be observed and limiting gatherings and restaurant opening hours. Infections in Iceland are surging, with a record of 178 new infections yesterday, following 168 infections the day before.

The tightened restrictions were announced last Friday, November 4 and rules on mask use went into effect the following day. The rest of the tightened restrictions took effect at midnight yesterday. The set of conditions announced were the least restrictive of three suggested by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

Masks will be required when the one-metre social distancing rule can not be observed, the maximum number of persons allowed in any location will be 500, and restaurants that have an alcohol licence will be required to close two hours earlier than the case is now. Events with up to 1500 participants will be allowed subject to rapid tests. The restrictions will remain in force for four weeks until Tuesday, December 8.

The Chief Epidemiologist considers these stricter domestic measures necessary to prevent an emergency in the health care system. Authorities now aim to bring the daily infection rate down to 40–50 and maintain that level through restrictions until better mass immunity has been reached through booster vaccinations and natural infections.

The measures in brief:

Masks must be worn when it is not possible to respect the one-metre social distancing rule, e.g. in shops where large numbers of people congregate, on public transport and similar. Masks must also be worn at seated events.

  • Children aged 15 and younger are exempt from the mask requirement.
  • Employees providing individual services that require close contact, e.g. hairdressing, massage and similar, are not required to wear masks since the customers must wear masks.
  • Students in upper secondary schools may remove their masks after sitting in class, even if students can not observe the one-metre social distancing rule.

The general restrictions on gatherings will be 500 persons: The one-metre social distancing rule can be waived at seated events while people remain seated, provided everyone wears a mask (applies as of November 10).

Rapid tests and organised events: Events with up to 1500 participants will be allowed. Even though rapid tests have been administered, participants in such events will still be required to wear masks if the one-metre social distancing rule can not be observed (applies as of November 10).

The special authorisation for school events in elementary and secondary schools continues to apply with rapid tests.

Restaurants with an alcohol licence: The opening time will be reduced by two hours; closing time will be 23:00h (11 p.m.), and the venues must be vacated before midnight. Registration of guests will begin again, and alcohol shall be served at the table.


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