The news ends speculation that even stricter rules would be applied in light of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant and continuing Delta outbreak.
“We are going to extend the restrictions that we have been living with for the past three weeks. We are extending them on the recommendation of the chief epidemiologist. Completely unchanged,” Willum Þór said after this morning’s cabinet meeting—emphasising that he has followed Þórólfur Guðnason’s recommendations to the letter and that Þórólfur did not recommend tightening restrictions, as had been widely speculated.
Willum Þór said clarified rules for schools are being finalised and will go into effect tomorrow at the same time as the extended restrictions go into effect.
Willum also stressed that the days ahead are critical: “We need to monitor the situation and we discussed it carefully in government and there is a great deal of consensus that we must be ready to stand up and support the health system. It is suffering pressure on top of pressure. Landspítali is on an emergency footing. We must assess with our main specialists and the chief epidemiologist how things will develop in the next few days and whether any changes need to be made to the restrictions.”
Prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told reporters that society needs to stay resilient and take the hit once again, but added that data increasingly indicate that Omicron is causing serious illness in fewer affected patients than previous variants. On the other hand, she pointed out, Delta is still widespread alongside an enormous number of Omicron infections. “This month and next will be tough. But then I think we can start to look towards better times,” Katrín said, with specific mention of the success of the booster vaccine roll-out.