COVID-19 in Iceland: Gathering Restrictions to Be Relaxed, Gyms to Reopen Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: Gathering Restrictions to Be Relaxed, Gyms to Reopen

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason
Photo: Golli. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

From January 13 on, infection prevention restrictions in Iceland will be relaxed, if the pandemic’s spread continues to be at a low. According to a press release from the Ministry of Health, gathering limits will go from 10 to 20, and athletes and amateurs alike will be able to resume their sports training, albeit under strict conditions.

The maximum gathering limit will be 20 people, gyms and sports clubs will be allowed to reopen under strict conditions, and ski slopes as well. Sports training for children and adults alike will be allowed to resume as well, and competitions and tournaments can go ahead, although spectators won’t be allowed. For stage performances, 50 people can be on stage, with audiences of 100 adults and 100 children. The same applies to other cultural events. Gathering limits and opening hour restrictions for restaurants and bars will remain unchanged. These are the main changes to infection prevention regulations introduced at the government’s meeting today. The changes are set to be in effect from January 13 to February 17.

Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason suggests these changes to the restrictions, due to our success in fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland. He points out that in several countries close to us the pandemic is growing, due to a strain of the virus that is yet to spread in Iceland. For that reason, he presents his suggestions with a proviso that the pandemic’s development won’t get worse. In order to preserve the success Icelanders have had in fighting the spread of the pandemic, the Chief Epidemiologist and the Ministry of Health are considering changes to border regulations making the double border testing mandatory or at least requiring the people who choose the 14-day quarantine over the free double test to remain at quarantine hotels for the period of their quarantine. The number of people choosing the 14-day quarantine is under 1 % of travellers through Iceland’s borders.

The main changes to the infection prevention regulations set to take effect on January 13.

  • A general gathering limit of 20 people.
  • Shops – Instead of the current tule allowing 5 customers per 10m2, the new regulations allow for one customer per 4m2, but no more than 100 customers in one space.
  • Gyms – Allowed to reopen under strict conditions. The number of visitors can’t exceed 50% of the gym’s operating license. If no number is specified in the operation license, the number of visitors can’t exceed 50% of the changing room’s capacity. Only group sessions are allowed, with a maximum of 20 registered participants. Changing rooms shall be closed. Children born 2005 or later will not be counted with the number of visitors. The Chief Epidemiologist will issue detailed instructions for infection prevention at gyms and sports clubs.
  • Sports training – Sports training of children and adults, with and without contact, will be allowed, indoors and outdoors. No more than 50 people can be in one space at a time.
  • Sports competitions – Sports competitions for children and adults will be allowed without spectators.
  • Ski Slopes – Ski slopes will be allowed to open with limitations. Solo skiers will not share ski lifts with others, a social distance of two metres shall be maintained, and the same rules apply to mask use as elsewhere.
  • Performance arts, cinemas, and other cultural events – Up to 50 people can be on stage during rehearsals and shows. Masks should be worn wherever possible, and a social distance of two metres should be kept whenever possible. Seated guests can be up to 100 adults and 100 children born in 2005 and later. Seated guests should be registered by name, and adults shall wear masks.

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