Iceland’s Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has decided to extend the current COVID-19 restrictions until December 9. Authorities had suggested the possibility of slightly relaxing restrictions from December 2, but a new uptick in cases in recent days led them to reconsider the plan. The minister’s decision to maintain current restrictions is in line with Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason’s recommendations.
Iceland has reported an uptick in new domestic cases in recent days, following several weeks of declining numbers. Current restrictions, which include a gathering limit of 10 people and closure of bars, swimming pools, and gyms, were originally valid until today, December 1, and set to be replaced with new regulations tomorrow, December 2.
In his recommendations submitted to the Health Minister last week, the Chief Epidemiologist suggested a minimal loosening of restrictions from December 2. He later rescinded those recommendations after case numbers began to rise again.
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Þórólfur’s memorandums to the Health Minister always include a clause that his suggestions may change if the situation takes a turn for the worse. He stated that the current rise in numbers was due to small gatherings. “What we’re seeing now is the effect of what happened a week ago, because it takes about a week before the numbers reflect the changes. This is the result of gatherings, not necessarily huge parties. Any gatherings, within families or outside them, are a clear risk factor. This is a time when people get together, especially families. We want to ask people to be very careful and stay away from such gatherings so we won’t be hit hard in the coming weeks.”
Authorities issued specific recommendations for holiday gatherings yesterday.