A 200-person gathering limit, one-metre distancing, and restricted opening hours for bars and nightclubs will be reimposed in Iceland just four weeks after all domestic restrictions due to COVID-19 were lifted. The restrictions are based on recommendations from Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and were decided on at a lengthy cabinet meeting today. At a briefing in Reykjavík yesterday, Þórólfur stated that COVID case numbers were rising at an exponential rate despite the country’s high vaccination rates.
On June 26, Iceland lifted all domestic restrictions due to COVID-19, one year and four months after the very first social restrictions were imposed due to the pandemic. The country also loosened border restrictions on July 1, allowing travellers with proof of vaccination or previous infection to enter the country without testing or quarantine. Infection rates have risen over the past two weeks, and Iceland now reports 371 active cases, up from 60 cases just eight days ago.
Restrictions, gathering limits, and masks
Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced the new restrictions at 7:00 PM tonight following a three-hour cabinet meeting in Egilsstaðir, East Iceland. They include a 200-person gathering limit, mandated closing time of midnight for bars and nightclubs, and a general one-metre distancing rule between individuals who do not have a close relationship.
Swimming pools and gyms will remain open but may not operate above 75% capacity. Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that mandatory mask use will also be reimposed for certain activities that will be announced later. Katrín stated that the restrictions decided on by the cabinet were for the most part in line with the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendations.
The restrictions take effect tomorrow (July 24) at midnight and will remain in place until August 13.