Social distancing and gathering restrictions will be tightened again in Iceland, RÚV reports. This was the conclusion that the government came to after convening for a two-hour meeting on Saturday afternoon to review the recommendations of chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason. It is expected that the new restrictions will go into effect on Monday.
Per the revised restrictions, gatherings will be limited to twenty people or fewer (with some exceptions), and bars, clubs, and gyms will close again. Swimming pools will remain open, but at a much lower capacity.
“We went over the chief epidemiologist’s memo, which he sent to the Minister of Health before noon today,” Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told reporters after the meeting ended. “He proposed very strict rules to combat the spread of the virus. And I think we were all shocked by the infection numbers today—they’re frightening.” At time of writing, 652 people were in isolation and 1,608 in quarantine. Thirteen people have currently been hospitalized and three are in intensive care. On Friday alone, 61 new COVID-19 cases were diagnosed and 39 of these individuals were not in quarantine.
“There’s also the fact that we’ve seen in recent days that far too many of those who are diagnosed [with COVID-19] are not in quarantine. Which tells us that this is a very widespread community infection. Which is why the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendations to the Minister of Health are all about putting in place significantly tougher measures.”
“The most important recommendation was to lower the gathering limit considerably, which is to say to generally keep it under twenty people, although with some exceptions, which will be laid out in an announcement that the Minister of Health will be releasing,” Katrín continued.
The Minister of Health is expected to release the full list of regulations and exemptions to the gathering limit on Sunday. Special provisions will be made, for example, for funerals. Schools and daycare facilities will remain open, but with revised rules dictating their operation. These regulations will also be explained in tomorrow’s announcement.
It is presumed that the new restrictions will go into effect on Monday and will remain in place for at least two weeks.