Iceland to lift further COVID-19 restrictions September 15

A file photo from Reykjavik, Iceland. Starting September 15, restaurant opening hours will also be extended by one hour to midnight, one of several changes to public health regulations announced on Tuesday.  (Haraldur Gudjonsson/AFP/ via Getty)

Iceland is set to further lift some of its COVID-19 restrictions on September 15 as case numbers and hospitalizations continue to fall. 

The decision was made Tuesday morning upon recommendations from Iceland’s chief epidemiologist.

“The memorandum of the epidemiologist states, among other things, that the epidemic is slowing down since the current wave reached its peak July 30,” the government said in a news release on Tuesday.

“In recent days, few have been hospitalized. The situation at (The National University Hospital of Iceland) due to COVID-19 is not as serious now as before in this wave.” 

Among the new changes are raising the number of people allowed to gather in groups to 500. At events offering rapid testing, groups up to 1,500 people have been OK’d.

Restaurant opening hours will also be extended by one hour to midnight.

Indoor masking and social distancing rules of one metre will stay in place except in certain exceptions such as seated events.

Slow lifting of further public health rules

As of September 14, Iceland was reporting 135.3 domestic infections per 100,000 people, and 6.3 cases per 100,000 people at the border.

The government said further modification of public health measures would continue to be done gradually.

Iceland lifted all domestic COVID-19 restrictions in June 2021 but was quickly engulfed in its fourth wave due to the Delta variant .

“The memorandum of the epidemiologist states that in light of the experience gained lifting all domestic restrictions at the end of June 2021, he believes it’s right to proceed slowly in the near future,” the government said. 

The new regulations will be in place until October 6.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North:

CanadaHealth board looking to delay Quebec vaccine passport for Nunavik youth until mid fall, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland announces COVID-19 reopening plan, Eye on the Arctic

IcelandIceland sets up committee to examine COVID-19 response, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Ten percent of population on Russia’s Kola Peninsula has been infected with COVID-19, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden extends COVID-19 test recommendations for travellers from abroad, Radio Sweden

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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