School Dances, Larger Events, And Longer Opening Hours For Bars Tomorrow Skip to content

School Dances, Larger Events, And Longer Opening Hours For Bars Tomorrow

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir
Photo: Ministry of Health. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir.

Bars can remain open an hour longer, schools can have student dances, and events requiring rapid testing can now accommodate up to 1,500 people, according to new infection prevention regulations taking effect at midnight tonight. To further facilitate rapid testing, the government will now participate in costs for tests taken by private companies. The fourth wave of the pandemic continues to subside but Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason urges caution and slow lifting of restrictions.

The minister of health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has introduced new relaxations of infection prevention restrictions at the government’s meeting this morning, according to Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason’s suggestions. The new regulations will take effect at midnight tonight and be in effect until October 6.

General gathering limits will increase to 500 people and events requiring rapid testing will be able to accommodate up to 1,500 people. Rapid testing events will also be able to host standing guests if they keep a distance of 1 m or wear a mask. When seated, guests will not need to keep a distance of 1m or wear a mask. Otherwise, a general requirement of a social distance of 1 m or mask use will be in place. Special authorisation for Elementary or secondary schools with no social distancing or mask use for up to 1,500 will also be in effect.

Opening hours for bars and restaurants will be extended by one hour, so they will be able to serve guests until midnight, but all guests must have left the premises an hour later.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórolfur Guðnason noted that since Jul 30, when the current wave peaked, the pandemic has been slowly subsiding and in the past few days, few people have been hospitalised. The situation at the National University Hospital is not as dire as it was earlier in this wave and children and teenager vaccinations have been a success, as well as booster shots for people with underlying illnesses. He notes that in light of the experience of lifting all domestic restrictions in June 2021, he believes we should relax restrictions slowly.

Changes to Pandemic infection prevention regulations from September 15 to October 6 include:

  • A general gathering limit of 500 people. Children born in 2006 or later will be exempt from gathering limits and will not need to be counted in that number.
  • A gathering limit of 1,500 people for events requiring guests to take a rapid test before entering.
    • These events will allow for standing guests keeping a distance of 1m or using a mask.
    • Seated guests will not be required to keep a distance of 1m or use a mask
    • Guests will need to be registered upon entry but not their seats.
  • No changes to the requirement of a social distance of 1m except for seated events and school events.
  • Mask need to be worn indoors if the social distancing requirement of 1m cannot be met.
  • Restaurants licensed to sell alcohol can remain open until midnight. Guests will have to have left the premises by 1am.
  • Elementary and secondary schools will be authorised to host events for students including up to 1,500 guests, on the condition that they present a negative result from a rapid test no older than 48 hours. Masks or social distancing won’t be required but all guests must be registered.

Additionally, the minister of Health introduced a plan to make rapid tests for COVID-19 more accessible, with the goal of offering them in more places than now. The government will participate in the cost of rapid testing for private companies as well as the healthcare centres and public healthcare institutions. Private enterprises will also be added to the Chief Epidemiologist’s certificate system so that they can issue the same standard confirmation of results following a test as the public healthcare system.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!