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Even tougher COVID rules start at midnight

30.10.2020 - 13:19
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Guðmundur Bergkvist - RÚV
Government ministers have this afternoon announced harder COVID-19 controls in Iceland. Prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir started the press conference saying that it is clear the current rules are not working as desired. She has met with her Nordic colleagues online and says harder controls are coming in across the whole region.

Trick or Treating on Halloween this weekend was specifically discouraged by the PM, who instead chose to look forward to Advent, Christmas, and the brightening days that will follow shortly thereafter.

Handing over to health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir, attention turned to the recommendations from the chief epidemiologist that she has accepted to make law almost without change.  

The 20-person assembly limit is going down to ten people.

That ten-person limit will be relaxed to 50 in supermarkets and pharmacies, Large supermarkets will be allowed more than 50 people, determined by their floor space. But all other shops and establishments will be forced to adhere, regardless of their size.

Up to 30 people will be allowed at funerals. Svandís says this was the only change she made to the recommendations. The chief epidemioplogist had wanted to limit it to 20.

Pubs, clubs and swimming pools will close all over the country, and not only in the capital. Alcohol-licenced restaurants and cafés all over the country that try to stay open must close at 21.00 each evening; as well as adhering to the two-metre rule and the ten-person limit.

Other exemptions to the ten-person limit are made for domestic flights, public transport, coaches, the emergency services, and the operation of courts, Alþingi, the State Council and Government. Households of more than ten people are also exempt.

Sports activities are all postponed and clubs and facilities all closed. 

The exemption to the two-metre rule and the wearing of face masks now only applies to children born in and after 2015. That is ten years later than the rule as it stands today.

Svandís said that the rules will be relaxed sooner, the better people stick to them over the coming days. 

They go into effect at midnight and are expected to last until the end of Tuesday 17th November - though will be under constant review and could be shortened or lengthened.

According to Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, justice minister, the authorities were faced with a decision between sticking with the current, already highly restrictive rules for a longer time, or tightening up more now with a view to being able to relax them in time for Advent and Christmas.

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This article has been updated. An earlier version mistakenly idendified Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir as industry and innovation minister.

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV