Government to Introduce Plan to Ease Social Restrictions Today Skip to content
Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson
Photo: Golli. Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson.

Government to Introduce Plan to Ease Social Restrictions Today

The government will meet this morning to discuss the Chief Epidemiologist’s new memorandum on the COVID-19 pandemic. After the meeting, the cabinet will hold a press conference to introduce its plan to ease restrictions. The press conference will take place at 11.30 AM at the Culture House in Reykjavík.

Ample reason for optimism

Less than 48 hours after significantly relaxing COVID-19 quarantine regulations, the government is expected to introduce a plan to begin easing social restrictions. The current restrictions – mandating a ten-person limit on social gatherings, in effect since January 15 – will expire on Wednesday, February 2.

In a speech before Parliament yesterday, Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson did not go into the details of the new plan but admitted that he was optimistic: “We are at a turning point, and there is ample reason to be optimistic, seeing as we’ve arrived at the point in this pandemic where we can begin easing restrictions,” Willum stated.

The easing of social restrictions is expected to lead to an increase in infections, as noted in a memorandum authored by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and submitted to the Minister of Health on Monday; a record number of COVID-19 cases were recorded yesterday and Wednesday (nearly 1,600). Despite the rise in infections, however, hospitalisations have continued to decline, and the state of the hospitals has been better than the most optimistic models predicted. The National University Hospital has been in an emergency phase since December 28, owing mainly to the absence of quarantining staff.

Step-by-step

In an interview with RÚV, Sigríður Dóra Magnúsdóttir, director of patient care at capital area health centres, stressed that the manner in which restrictions were eased mattered: “I believe that we should ease restrictions in deliberate phases, one step at a time. In this way, we can observe changes incrementally. Removing all restrictions at once, will make it much more difficult to turn back if things go awry. We’ve tried that approach, and I don’t recommend it.”

As noted by Mbl.is, Willum has suggested that the government would take a cautious approach to easing restrictions.

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