Slight changes to Iceland’s COVID-19 restrictions take effect today, November 18. The changes are minor and mostly affect school operations and children’s activities, though hair salons and massage parlours have been permitted to reopen. Authorities have emphasised the need for continued restrictions over the coming weeks in order to avoid a resurgence in new cases.
Following a summer with low COVID-19 infection rates, Iceland experienced a new wave of infection that started in mid-September. Active case numbers and the country’s incidence rate have been dropping steadily since mid-October, however.
Most Rules Have Been Extended
Most of the country’s regulations, implemented on October 31 or earlier, remain unchanged in the new regulations, which will be in effect for two weeks. A gathering ban on groups over 10 remains in effect, and bars, clubs, swimming pools, and gyms remain closed. Regulations for restaurants remain the same: they may operate but must close no later than 10.00pm.
As per the previous regulations, grocery stores and pharmacies may take in 50-100 customers at a time, where space allows for 2-metre distancing. Mask use remains mandatory in shops and on public transportation.
Changes to Gathering Limits in Schools
Most of the regulations that have been relaxed affect schools and children’s activities. Athletics and recreational activities for children of preschool and primary school age are permitted to resume from today, both indoors and outdoors. In order for such activities to take place, the mixing of different groups at this age is now permitted.
Groups of up to 50 are permitted for children in preschools and grades 1-4, whereas children in grades 5-10 may be in groups of up to 25. Mask use is no longer mandatory for children in grades 5-7 and neither is 2-metre distancing.
In junior colleges (where students are generally aged 16-19), groups of up to 25 are permitted, up from the limit of 10 yesterday. Some junior colleges have reported, however, that they will continue online teaching for the remainder of the term. Students and staff at junior colleges are required to use masks where two-metre distancing cannot be maintained.
Hair salons and massage parlours are also permitted to reopen as of today, and driving and flight lessons are permitted once more. Mask use is mandatory for all commercial activities requiring contact or close proximity. The updated regulations will remain in effect until December 1.