New rules start at midday

31.07.2020 - 11:24
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: RÚV - Grímur Jón Sigurðsson - RÚV
[UPDATED] Iceland’s new, stricter anti COVID-19 rules go into effect shortly, at midday on Friday 31st July. They are nominally in place for two weeks until the 13th August, but will actually be re-assessed on a daily basis and could be strengthened or relaxed before that date.

The troika “þríeykið” of civil protection chiefs will hold a press conference at 14.00 this afternoon, with guest Óskar Reykdalsson, head of Heilsugæslan, the capital region healthcare centres. Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason will also return to his spot after some time off, relieving his second in command, Kamilla Sigríður Jósefsdóttir. 

From midday, the wearing of face masks will become mandatory in settings where the two-metre rule cannot be enforced. This includes hair salons, beauty parlours, opticians, and on all public transport, including domestic flights and ferries. (UPDATED AT 16.30): Strætó, the capital region bus service, was given an official exemption and at first decided to demand masks, but later backtracked and confirmed masks will not be mandatory. Passengers will not be refused access to buses if they are not wearing a mask, as had been previously reported. 

By the end of yesterday, there were 39 confirmed active cases of the coronavirus in Iceland, including two group outbreaks in Akranes and the capital. One person is in hospital—the first since this spring. Landspítali national university hospital raised its alert level from “uncertainty” to “danger” as a result, which means noticeable changes to its day-to-day operation. 

From midday today, the national assembly limit will be 100 instead of 500 and the two-metre rule will be mandatory instead of advisory. The current double testing system when entering the country will be extended from just Icelandic citizens and residents to all people from high risk countries who plan to stay ten days or longer.  

More details here, and on the official government website here

Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, justice minister, confirmed that the national alert level will remain at “danger” and not be re-elevated to “emergency” at this time. She told RÚV it is good to keep that measure in reserve for now. Iceland was in a state of emergency throughout the height of the pandemic this spring.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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