COVID rules to relax earlier than expected?
The rate of COVID-19 infection within Iceland has been dropping slowly but steadily and no more than ten new cases have been diagnosed per day so far this year, including none at all yesterday. The widely-predicted spike in new cases following Christmas and the New Year was largely avoided and all passengers arriving in the country are now obliged to undergo double border testing with five days’ quarantine in between. Border testing has revealed a significant number of cases in incoming passengers, though that number has reduced quickly recently as the number of passengers has dropped. Only two flights per day have been scheduled for most of this week.
The current, slightly relaxed domestic rules began just over a week ago, doubling the assembly limit to 20 people and relaxing some rules on sports, gyms, cultural activities, and education. The rules were scheduled to remain in place until 17th February.
Þórólfur Guðnason says today that it is too early to propose further relaxation to the rules but that he is optimistic it will be possible to do so earlier than the 17th February.
“We still need to see whether the relaxations that took effect a week ago, whether they result in increased infection. That is not being seen as things stand now, but we need to wait and see. We need to be sure of that before we start thinking about relaxing any more. If it carries on like this, with so few infections, we will look at whether more relaxation should happen earlier, or suggest it,” Þórólfur says.
Þórólfur says there are nine different criteria he looks for in deciding whether rules should be relaxed or hardened, and that daily infection data is just one of them. “It takes so little. There just needs to be one party where the wrong man is at the wrong time in the wrong place with the infection, then it can spread very quickly. It is all really sensitive, though it has been going well. Of course, one is pleased with this,” he adds.