COVID-19 in Iceland: Bars, Churches, And Gym Changing Rooms To Reopen Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Bars, Churches, And Gym Changing Rooms To Reopen

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Map of Europe showing 14-day notification rate, testing rate and test positivity by region, updated 4 February 2021
Photo: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has agreed to Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason’s suggestions for cautious relaxations of restrictions from February 8 on. Gatherings will still be limited to 20 people but exceptions will be more lenient. Bars and clubs will be allowed to reopen but a social distance of two metres will still be required, as well as masks when the distance can’t be kept.

Bars, clubs, arcades and slots machines will reopen under some conditions. Stage performance audiences will be limited to 150 seated guests instead of the previous 100 and religious services, including funerals, can have 150 seated guests in attendance as well. The number of customers allowed in shops will still depend on its size but may not exceed 150, and the same goes for museums’ exhibition halls. Gyms can reopen changing rooms and allow exercise in weight-lifting rooms, instead of limiting their operations to scheduled group sessions. The regulations will take be in effect from February 8 to March 3.

Previous infection prevention regulations were slated to last until February 18 but the Chief Epidemiologist’s memo to the Minister of Health stated that as the pandemic was slowing down domestically, he saw reason to relax restrictions sooner than originally intended. He still urges caution until COVID-19 vaccinations become more widespread.

Iceland has had success in curbing the last wave of the pandemic. For the past two weeks, only one case of COVID-19 has been detected outside quarantine, even with high rates and easy access to tests. Iceland is the only green country in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s latest map indicating 14-day notification rate, testing rate and test positivity for COVID-19, pictured above.

Regulation changes:

Restaurants where alcohol is served, including restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs shall not remain open longer than 10 pm at night. The same goes for arcades and slots machines. Food and drink will only be served to seated guests and new patrons can not enter such establishments after 9 pm.

The following exceptions from the 20- people gathering limit will take effect Monday, although the two-metre social distance rule and rules on mask use will still be in effect. Children born 2005 or later are exempt from gathering limits, social distance and mask use.

Religious organisations: All religious services can have up to 150 in attendance.

Shops: Shops fulfilling the prerequisite square footage conditions can have up to 150 guests at a time.

Museums: Each space fulfilling the prerequisite square footage conditions can have up to 150 guests at a time.

Performance arts: Up to 150 seated guests.

Gyms and sports clubs: changing rooms can reopen and individual practice in weight-lifting rooms can resume, as long as there are no more than 20 people in each space who’ve registered beforehand. The number of guests can’t exceed 50% of the gym’s capacity according to their operational licence. All equipment shall be disinfected after use and staff should ensure people do not move between spaces.

Cerebral sports: Rules for sports training and competition will now also apply to chess, bridge, bingo and comparable cerebral sports and games.


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