New COVID-19 restrictions for Iceland’s schools and universities

View of the University of Akureyri in northern Iceland in 2017. Iceland established a new slate of COVID-19 rules in its educational institutions this week. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
Iceland has put in place a new series of COVID-19 measures in educational institutions that came into effect November 3.

“The aim is to interfere as little as possible with educational work, and that activities in pre-schools and the early years of compulsory schooling should proceed in full,” the government said in a news release on Monday.

People born in 2011 or afterwards will no longer have to wear face masks in pre-schools, junior schools, music schools, upper secondary schools (post-16), post-secondary education and the universities.

The new rule is in effect in both private and public institutions.

Exceptions to the rule will be made in some cases where a two-metre distance cannot be observed, in which case face masks are required.

Group sizes that must now be observed in Iceland include no more than 50 students together in the same space for children in pre-school or in grades one to four; no more than 25 students in the same space from grades five to ten; and a general rule of no more than 10 people in the same space in universities.

Iceland COVID-19 stats
A November 3, 2020 snapshot of the current COVID-19 isolation and quarantine numbers in Iceland. (Government of Iceland)
News cases reported Monday

As of Tuesday, Iceland’s COVID-19 stats page was reporting 4,931 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths since the pandemic began. Domestic infections per 100,000 people over the last 14 days is reported as 198.

Iceland is now only updating its government COVID-19 stats on hospital and emergency admissions twice a week, on Monday and Thursday local time.

As of Monday, it was reporting 273 hospital admissions and 43 emergency ward admissions.

Twenty-six new cases were reported on Monday.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: COVID-19 travel clinic opens in Montreal for travellers to Inuit region of Arctic Quebec, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland reinstates border restrictions with Sweden and Estonia due to COVID-19, Yle News

Greenland: Greenland’s new executive order on COVID-19 comes into effect September 30, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland tightens up COVID-19 rules and increases social distancing rule to two metres across the country, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seeks new powers to limit movement during pandemic, Radio Sweden

United States: After early containment success, there’s now rapid COVID-19 spread in rural Alaska, including the Arctic, Alaska Public Media

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 a 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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