Health Minister Willum Þór Þórsson has introduced new infection prevention restrictions, following a government meeting that started at 9:30 this morning.
The changes to the current regulations include a gathering limit of 20 persons. Swimming pools and gyms are required to cut down the number of visitors by half and negative rapid test results will be required at larger events. A 2-metre social distancing rule will also replace the current 1-metre rule.
The Chief Epidemiologist, Þórólfur Guðnason, suggested the new rules last night. He had also advised that Christmas breaks from schools at all education levels should be prolonged to slow down the spread of the virus. However, the Health Minister turned down the advice, stating that the ministers responsible for education would monitor the situation over the next few days before making a final decision.
The new rules will not affect the opening hours of shops, bars and restaurants. Restrictions at the national borders will remain unchanged.
Cases have been rising rapidly in the past days, reaching an all-time high of 286 cases nationwide yesterday. Thousands of people will therefore spend Christmas in quarantine or isolation.
Experts have warned that the Omicron variant will spread quickly over the next weeks, resulting in a sharp rise in cases. Már Kristjánsson, head physician of the Infectious Diseases Ward at Landsspitali University Hospital said in an interview with RUV yesterday that if the current development continues, daily cases may rise to 600.
The new rules will take effect at midnight tomorrow, lasting for at least three weeks.