No change to assembly limit or opening hours

03.07.2020 - 15:59
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Iceland’s health minister has decided, upon the chief epidemiologist’s advice, to extend the current assembly limit in the country for at least another three weeks, to the 26th July. Gatherings larger than 500 people will continue to be banned. The closing time of gambling establishments and alcohol-licenced premises will also remain limited to no later than 23.00 each night for the time being.

Health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir discussed her decision at this morning’s cabinet meeting and it was this afternoon published on the official government website. The provision of information on public and personal protection against infection will also be boosted, the minister says. 

Svandís also approved the chief epidemiologist’s advice to change the rules on COVID-19 testing for Icelandic citizens and residents, and they are expected to come into force no later than 13th July. 

The new rule will apply to Icelandic citizens and foreign citizens who live in Iceland, who will be required to either quarantine for 14 days upon returning to the country, or be tested for the virus at the border, quarantine for four or five days and then be tested again before returning to normal life. 

Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has spoken of a regression taking place, saying that while it was not unexpected, the country must do all it can to prevent the rise in cases turning into a second wave. 

Around 22,000 people have entered Iceland since border testing began on 15th June and 16,000 of them have been tested. Active COVID-19 infection was found in seven individuals and around 400 people have been ordered into home quarantine after contact tracing within Iceland (most of whom had not been overseas). Nobody in the country is seriously ill with the virus at this time. 

In other related news, the British government has announced a list of 59 ‘low risk´ countries from which arriving passengers will be exempt from the requirement to quarantine for 14 days in England. The list includes Iceland and all the other Nordic countries, apart from Sweden. The quarantine exemption list applies only to people entering the UK in England and different rules will apply to Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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