COVID-19: Relaxations to the restrictions on gathering sizes to apply from 13 January

Gatherings will be restricted to a maximum of 20 persons and health and fitness centres and skiing facilities will be able to open again. Sporting activities will be permitted for both children and adults, subject to certain restrictions; the same will apply to sports competitions, which will proceed without spectators.

For stage events, relaxations will mean that up to 50 persons may be on stage, with up to 100 adults and 100 children in the audience; the same figures will apply to other cultural events. These are the principal features of the new rules on gathering restrictions that the Minister of Health issued earlier today, following discussion by the cabinet; they are based on recommendations by the Chief Epidemiologist. The new rules are to take effect on 13 January and remain in force (subject to review) until 17 February.

The relaxations were proposed by the Chief Epidemiologist in view of the good results achieved in recent efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland. Noting that the pandemic has surged in various countries, due partly to the emergence of a new variant of the virus which has so far not spread to any significant extent in Iceland, he proposed these changes, subject to the possibility of review in response to a worsening of the pandemic in the country. 

Principal changes:

  • The general restriction on numbers at gatherings will be 20 persons.
  • Health and fitness centres: These will be permitted to operate, subject to strict conditions. The maximum number of guests will be half of that specified in the operating licence; in cases where no number is specified in the operating licence, it will be half of the number for which the changing facilities are designed. Only organised group sessions may be held, in which the maximum number in each group will be 20 and the names of all guests will be recorded. Changing facilities will be closed. Children born in or after 2005 will not be counted in guest totals. The Chief Epidemiologist will issue detailed instructions on measures to be taken against infection in health and fitness centres. 
  • Sports practices: Sports practices, for children and adults, will be permitted, both indoors and outdoors, whether or not they involve physical contact. Not more than 50 persons may occupy each separate area.  
  • Sports matches/competitions: Competitions and matches, for both children and adults, will be permitted, but without spectators.
  • Skiing facilities: Skiing facilities will be permitted to open, though subject to the restrictions set out in Rule No. 4 in the published Rules on skiing facilities in Iceland. On ski-lifts, measure shall be taken to ensure that guests who are on their own do not have to share ski-chairs with others. Social distancing of 2 metres shall be maintained. The same rules on the use of face-masks will apply in skiing facilities as elsewhere.
  • Stage performances, choirs, cinema showings and other cultural events: Up to 50 persons will be permitted on stage, both at rehearsals and at performances. Face-masks shall be worn where possible and the 2-metre social distancing rule shall be observed to the extent possible. Audiences of up to 100 adults and 100 children born in or after 2005 may be admitted; they shall be seated in numbered seats with their names recorded, and adults shall wear face-masks.
  • At funerals, up to 100 persons may attend, while general restrictions apply to funeral receptions, i.e. 20 persons.

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