Domestic Restrictions Relaxed, Government Aims To Curb Infections, Not Eliminate Them Skip to content
Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir
Photo: Ministry of Health. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir.

Domestic Restrictions Relaxed, Government Aims To Curb Infections, Not Eliminate Them

Rapid tests will make events up to 500 people possible and swimming pools and gyms will be allowed to operate at 100% capacity. These are the most notable changes to infection prevention regulations that will take effect next Saturday. Steps are being taken to relax infection prevention restrictions slowly, Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir stated after the government’s meeting this morning.

While the general rule states that gatherings will continue to be limited to 200 people or fewer, cultural and sporting events will be allowed to have up to 500 people provided they present results from rapid tests upon entry. The country’s largest theatres, concert halls and sports federation will be consulted on how best to implement the new rules. Swimming pools and gyms will be allowed to operate at full capacity instead of the former 75% and restaurants will be able to seat up to 200 people.

The changes to infection prevention restrictions are based on suggestions from Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason. He suggests relaxing restrictions as the current wave of the pandemic appears to be slowly receding and the situation at the National Hospital seems to be under control at the moment, due to precautions taken within the hospital and the healthcare system in general, Svandís states. According to the Minister, the new restrictions follow the Chief Epidemiologist’s suggestions exactly.

The government’s press release notes that regulations on quarantines were amended in the past week to make them less burdensome and new regulations allowing the use of self-tests took effect.

The press release also noted that curbing the spread of infections seems to be the most desirable and most responsible way to get Iceland out of the COVID-19 emergency situation. Instead of eliminating infections with harsh restrictions or allowing the virus to run rampant, steps will be taken to reduce the number of infections while allowing society to operate as close to normal as possible. They state that this method is mostly in line with the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendations.

The Chief Epidemiologist’s data shows that the likelihood of infection among unvaccinated individuals is twice that of vaccinated individuals. Unvaccinated people are also four times more likely to require hospitalization and six or seven times more likely to land in the ICU. They come to the conclusion that widespread vaccinations in Iceland has tempered the spread of infection but in particular, hindered serious illnesses from the virus.

Currently, 71% of Iceland’s total population is fully vaccinated and 75.4 % have received at least one shot of the vaccine. Children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination but vaccinations for children aged 12-16 began last week.

The new restrictions will take effect Saturday, August 28 and will be in effect for three weeks.

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