All COVID-19 social restrictions have been lifted as of midnight today. Individuals who test positive for the coronavirus will no longer be required to quarantine, and no disease prevention measures will be in place at the border.
Two years of restrictions
Nearly two years after imposing the first social restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Icelandic authorities have lifted all limitations on public gatherings. Rapid tests will replace PCR tests, and individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be required to quarantine.
According to a statement by Minister of Health Willum Þór Þórsson on Wednesday, the decision to lift social restrictions was unanimous among ministers – and in line with the most recent memorandum of Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.
The memo noted that severe illness has not increased over the past few weeks – despite over 2,000 infections being recorded daily. Þórólfur believes that the best way to end the pandemic is widespread herd immunity against the virus (ca. 80% of the population is expected to have become infected by mid-March).
Approximately 110,000 individuals have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in Iceland. Antibody testing suggests, however, that an equal number of people have already been infected without testing positive. Sixty one individuals have died from COVID-19 in Iceland since the start of the pandemic.
“We can truly rejoice at this turning-point, but I encourage people to be careful, to practice personal infection prevention measures, and not to interact with others if they notice symptoms,” the Minister of Health stated on Wednesday.
Bar-owners rejoice, despite poor weather
Among those who will be celebrating the lifting of restrictions are bar owners, who may now resume normal operations for the first time since July.
The nightlife in downtown Reykjavík is expected to be especially busy this weekend. The National University Hospital warns of an increased strain on its operations and encourages partygoers to exercise caution.
As noted by meteorologist Haraldur Ólafsson in an interview with Vísir, today’s forecast is less than ideal. An orange weather alert will be in effect for the capital area between 11 AM and 5 PM. Wind speed is expected to reach up to 25 m/s with sleet and rain. The storm will have mostly subsided by the evening.