Icelandic authorities have announced a ban on gatherings of 20 people or more starting Tuesday, March 24 to slow the spread of COVID-19. This is a modification of the four-week gathering ban on groups over 100 people that took effect on March 16. The ban is in force until April 12.
Grocery stores and pharmacies may still allow up to 100 people inside at once, provided space allows for a 2-metre distance between individuals. Measures regarding schools remain unchanged.
Bars, gyms, and swimming pools close
In light of the new restrictions, authorities have ordered the closure of swimming pools, gyms, bars and clubs, slot machines, and museums as of midnight tonight (March 23). Operations and services that require close contact between individuals or risk close contact are also prohibited during this period. This includes sports clubs, hairdressers, beauty salons, and massage parlours.
All stores, public buildings, and other frequented indoor spaces must be cleaned as often as possible. Hand sanitizer must be available at all entrances and in more frequented spaces such as checkouts in stores.
The measures do not affect international airports, ports, planes or ships.
Some municipalities impose stricter measures
Two communities in Iceland had already taken stricter measures regarding group gatherings. In the Westman Islands, where the number of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 27 yesterday, all gatherings of more than 10 people had been banned. In the North Iceland municipality of Húnaþing vestra, no more than five people may gather together. There are five confirmed cases in the municipality.
The spread of the virus among groups in these two communities was among the reasons authorities decided to tighten the gathering ban, according to Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.