Iceland’s Gym and Restaurant Owners Lament Updated Restrictions Skip to content

Iceland’s Gym and Restaurant Owners Lament Updated Restrictions

By Yelena

Júlían J. K. Jóhannsson heimsmethafi í kraftlyftingum
Photo: Golli. Use of share equipment in gyms, as pictured here, is not permitted..

Gym, restaurant, and bar owners in Iceland have expressed dissatisfaction with the updated social restrictions that take effect in the country tomorrow, December 10. While restrictions will be somewhat relaxed for restaurants, one owner says it won’t make enough of a difference. Gyms and bars, which have been closed since October, must keep their doors shut until the new year. Vísir reports that several gym owners are considering taking legal action against authorities due to the restrictions.

Gym Owners Consider Legal Action

“I think we gym owners can agree that this is a pretty dark day for us,” stated Jakobína Jónsdóttir, one of the owners of CrossFit gym Grandi 101. She says that although she didn’t have high hopes that the new regulations would allow gyms to reopen from tomorrow, she questioned why swimming pools were allowed to do so. Locker rooms have been considered high risk for spreading infections and swimming pool guests must of course use them, Jakobína pointed out.

Jakobína says around 20 gym owners have been communicating and are meeting with a lawyer today to consider taking legal action against the restrictions imposed on their businesses. “It seems to us that this is not really legal, these closures. So we are going to dive deeper into it.”

Gyms and Bars Behind Current Wave

Last October Iceland’s Civil Protection Department told Vísir that 110 COVID-19 infections had been traced directly to gyms and other athletic activities, but had not separated the cases between the two types of activities. The figure does not include secondary cases or further cases that arose indirectly from gyms and athletic activities.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated that it is perfectly normal for restrictions to be debated within society. He asserted, however, that data points to gyms being one of the main locations for infection spread during this wave. “We have seen both in our tracing data that one of the big places that is the root of this wave that we are dealing with now, there are several places, there are pubs, there is this boxing centre in Kópavogur, and then there are gyms. That’s just how it is,” Þórólfur stated. “There are very few infections traced to swimming pools here,” he added, saying that chlorinated water kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the European Centre for Disease Control also classifies swimming pools as much lower risk than gyms when it comes to spreading infection.

Restaurateurs Say December Season “Cancelled”

While restaurants will see slightly relaxed restrictions from tomorrow, most owners agree they are not enough to save the December season, which has effectively been cancelled. Restaurants will be permitted to accept up to 15 guests at a time as of tomorrow, up from the current 10, and to extend their opening hours from the limit of 9.00pm to 10.00pm.

Bragi Skaftason, a restaurateur of Tíu sopar in downtown Reykjavík, says the effects of the change are minimal. “The December season has effectively been cancelled,” he stated. “Fifteen from ten is indeed a jump, but when we look at the big picture it isn’t a big difference.”

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