Stricter COVID-19 measures took effect this morning in the Reykjavík capital area, including reinstating of the 2-metre rule and the closure of swimming pools and hair salons. The new measures are a further tightening of nationwide restrictions imposed by Icelandic authorities just two days ago. Iceland reported 99 new domestic cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest number since the third wave began around September 15. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason says it will take at least one to two weeks for the new restrictions to affect daily case numbers.
Closures and Two-Metre Distancing
The Health Minister approved the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendations for further restrictions in the Reykjavík area yesterday and the measures went into effect at midnight last night. The restrictions are as follows:
- The two-metre social distancing rule has been reinstated and applies everywhere, including all schools, except in the case of children born in 2005 or later.
- All businesses whose services require close proximity have been ordered to close, including hair salons, beauty parlours, massage parlours, and tattoo parlours. (Healthcare services are exempt from this regulation but masks must be worn at all times.)
- Swimming pools have been closed, though swimming classes for children born 2005 or later will continue.
- Indoor athletic activities requiring close proximity or contact between individuals or shared equipment are not permitted.
- Outdoor athletic events may take place. Audience members may not exceed 20 in each separate section, must sit in numbered seats and are required to wear masks.
- Audience members may not exceed 20 in theatres, movie theatres, at concerts, and at all similar events, and must sit in numbered seats and wear masks.
- Bars and clubs shall remain closed. Restaurants that are permitted to remain open must close no later than 9.00pm.
- Customers are required to wear masks in stores where two-metre distancing cannot be maintained.
The regulations will remain in effect until October 19 at the earliest.
Events Cancelled for Coming Weeks
Following recommendations from authorities, many other institutions have postponed or cancelled events scheduled during the next two weeks. The National Theatre and the Reykjavík City Theatre have cancelled all performances in the next 14 days. The National Church has also sent a memorandum to its staff recommending that in-person services, as well as music rehearsals, be cancelled for the month of October but encouraged staff to continue providing services and organising events via online streaming.
Outside of the capital area in Iceland, measures remain somewhat milder. Swimming pools and salons remain open and a one-metre distancing rule is in effect. The same 20-person gathering limit is, however, in effect across the country, as well as the closure of bars and clubs and restaurants’ mandated closing time of 9.00pm. Residents of the capital area have been asked to refrain from leaving the region as much as possible.