Varied reaction to new COVID-19 rules

30.07.2020 - 15:45
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Everybody in Iceland has an opinion on the new rules against COVID-19 that were introduced this morning and come into force at midday tomorrow (Friday). Here are quotes from a few prominent people directly connected to the changes.

Click here for more details of what the new rules are.

Svandís Svavarsdóttir, Minister for Health:

“[The decision] is about firmly gripping the handbrake now, when we are in a situation of rapidly multiplying domestic infections. And we are pushing [the assembly limit] very deliberately back down to 100 and taking the two-metre rule up again. [...] We know, all of us, that we had started relaxing a lot here within the country. We know that there was the possibility of some gaps at the border. So, there are several things we have been doing to improve and change. We need again to pay attention to personal contagion prevention. We know how to do it all, but we just need to get into it again.” 

Einar Kristjánsson, CEO Rekstrarvörur, a major wholesaler that supplies face masks: 

“This is a bigger explosion than when COVID started out. We have contracts with certain key agencies like Keflavík International Airport, Icelandair, healthcare centres, and nursing homes. But now they are being joined by coach companies, general businesses, and individuals.” Einar says his company has been stocking up and has plenty of masks in its warehouse. 

The organisers of Reykjavík Pride in a statement about cancelling the 4th to 9th August event (though some parts of it will go ahead online): 

“Reykjavík Pride is as necessary as ever, to draw attention to the struggle of queer people for their human rights and to increase their visibility in society. Though the organised programme is now cancelled, Reykjavík Pride itself will never come to an end.” 

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister: 

“Here, we are using that which worked best in the past. We are basically looking into the toolbox that we know and know how to use, and now, as before, we are pushing for the public to fully take part in these actions. For everybody to work together to make sure this works and that we regain control of the epidemic. [...] We are in the midst of a global pandemic which we cannot predict ahead of time. All countries are going through the same learning process. I said from the outset, when we relaxed the restrictions, that we were very conscious of that fact that we might need to step in decisively if it flared up again.” 

Kári Stefánsson, founder and CEO of deCODE genetics: 

“The situation is a bit unclear, as there are seven individuals infected with the same variant of the virus but who have no obvious connections. There is the possibility that the virus is everywhere. There are infected people out in the community who must be reached. My personal anxiety is such that I would have liked to have seen even harsher action.” 

Jóhannes Þór Skúlason, director of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association: 

“We hadn’t dared to hope that this wouldn’t happen, but it is something of a disappointment that it is happening so quickly. The tourism industry has been on the front line of this battle since early this spring and we know well what we have to do. It is nevertheless clear that it will put a big black mark in the book and create big problems which we again need to deal with. It is clear that restaurants will need to restrict access, so I hope people will show patience and understanding.” 

Arnar Þór Gíslason, owner of several Reykjavík bars: 

“We will do all we can to stay open, but it is far from being an ideal situation. We need to organise ourselves once again, but we are quick to adapt.” 

Björn Leifsson, director of World Class gyms: 

“It’s basically copy/paste of how it was before. Luckily it is the quietest time of year and luckily no infections have occurred at gyms. But, nevertheless, it is f**king s**t!” 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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