Iceland reinstates COVID-19 restrictions after spike in domestic infections

A bar in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May. The 11pm bar closing times will stay the same, but several other COVID-19 restrictions will come into effect on Friday in a bid to slow a recent uptick in infections. (Haraldur Gudjonsson/AFP/ via Getty)
Iceland is reinstating a slew of COVID-19 restrictions starting at noon on July 31 after a spike in domestic infections over the last several days.

The 11pm closing times for bars and restaurants will remain, but starting Friday, groups will be limited to 100 people and people will be required to respect a two metre distance.

Masks will also be obligatory in places where a two metre distance cannot be respected such as public transit, beauty parlors, ferries or domestic flights.

Iceland’s chief epidemiologist says museums, entertainment venues or public places that cannot respect the 100 person limit and respect the two metre distance rule should close.

Test changes at border, first hospitalization in weeks

Iceland also announced changes to its border screening process on Thursday.

Since June 15, Iceland has required visitors to either observe a 14-day self quarantine period or take a COVID-19 test upon arrival. Since July, 16, Iceland has exempted Finland, Norway and Denmark, along with Germany, from COVID-19 screening requirements for entering the country.

But starting Friday, travellers from risk areas planning to spend more than ten days in Iceland, will be required to take a second test four to six days after arrival if the first one is negative.

The changes announced Thursday will be in effect until August 13.

As of Thursday morning, Iceland was reporting 49 active COVID-19 infections, including one hospitalization, the first in over eight weeks.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit gov. in Labrador, Canada tells out-of-province travellers to stay away despite ‘Atlantic bubble’, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland extends COVID-19 entry requirements until July 20, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland lowers price of on-arrival COVID-19 testing, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegian Arctic wilderness tourism hit particularly hard by coronavirus, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: All Russia’s North Pole cruises rescheduled to 2021, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seen as major source of COVID-19 in Western Finland region, Yle News

United States: Airline shutdown creates new challenges for rural Alaska, The Associated Press

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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