- Social distancing, limits on gatherings, mask-wearing, limits on opening hours are all removed as of midnight
- 87 percent of the adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine
- Iceland maintained a policy of test, trace, quarantine and isolation from the outset of the pandemic and relied on the science to guide its response
- More than 60 per cent of domestic cases were individuals who were already in quarantine at the time of diagnosis.
- Vaccinated travellers who submit valid vaccination certificates or certificates of prior infections will not need to be tested at the border from 1 July
The Government of Iceland has announced that all domestic restrictions in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic will be lifted as of midnight tonight. Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced this morning that requirements to wear masks, socially distance and restrict gatherings would be fully lifted.
“We are regaining the kind of society which we feel normal to live in and we have longed for, ever since the authorisations of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases to restrict gatherings were activated because of the pandemic more than a year ago, on the 16th of March 2020”, said the Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. The decision to lift all gathering restrictions is in accordance with the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist.
About 87 per cent of Icelandic residents eligible to be vaccinated have received at least one dose of vaccine, while circa 60 percent are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Everyone that had not previously been offered vaccination should have received an invitation to arrange one at this point. Government plans for the vaccination programme and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings have therefore been completed.
Domestic restrictions due to COVID-19 have varied during the pandemic in accordance with the circumstances. Requirements on social distancing and restrictions on gatherings have been in force the entire period and varying requirements to wear masks have been in force since autumn 2020. The restrictions have resulted in limitations for a range of activities and occasional suspension of activities.
Cultural activities, sports, the operation of schools, restaurants, travel services and many more activities have been affected by the rules on restrictions of gatherings applicable at each time. However, most pre-school and primary education has continued on site during the pandemic, as it has been a priority and judged to be relatively low-risk.
A policy of widespread and early testing, contact tracing, quarantine of suspected contacts and isolation of known cases has been in place since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 60 per cent of domestic cases were individuals who were already in quarantine at the time of diagnosis.
Communication to the public has been led by the Chief Epidemiologist, the head of civil protection and the surgeon general, who have held press briefings, almost on a daily basis for parts of the crisis. “Continuous and honest communication between the people and our trusted scientists have contributed mightily to the population’s willingness to take part in the effort to minimize the harms of the pandemic. There has been a focus on maintaining a proper level of vigilance, without either downplaying or exaggerating the risk. We are succeeding by trusting the good sense of the Icelandic people,” says Svavarsdóttir.
“When we have found sporadic cases, our process has been to test aggressively and ask large groups of likely contacts to quarantine. So far this year, this has been sufficiently effective to surpress small clusters before they can grow into full-blown waves of infection.
“We fully expect that we will continue to detect cases and that small clusters of infection may appear. But we are confident that our contact tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks,” says Víðir Reynisson, Head of Civil Protection.
In 2021 most of the diagnosed domestic cases have been the Alpha variant (often referred to as the Kent or British variant). “The contact tracing and quarantine efforts here in Iceland seem to have contained its transmission to a similar level as the original variant, with slightly more than 5 percent of quarantined individuals turning out to have been infected regardless of which sub-type of the virus we have been dealing with,” says Thorolfur Gudnason, chief epidemiologist.
Currently 12 individuals are in isolation due to an infection. Throughout the pandemic a total of 6 637 domestic cases have been identified. 30 individuals in Iceland have died because of COVID-19. One fatality due to the disease has occurred in Iceland in 2021.
On the 1st of July, amended rules on testing at the borders will enter into force.
The borders: The testing of children and people with vaccination certificates or certificates of prior infections will be stopped
The Minister of Health has decided to amend the disease prevention rules at the borders applicable as of the 1st of July to the 15th of August.
- On the 1st of July testing of those who submit valid vaccination certificates with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency and/or by WHO will be stopped. A vaccination is considered valid when two weeks have passed from the time when the person in question received the latter injection of the vaccine, but when a person has been vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine one week must pass from the vaccination.
- Testing of children born after 2005 will stop.
- Those submitting valid vaccination certificates and certificates of prior infections of COVID-19 and children born after 2005 will not need to submit negative PCR-certificates upon arrival to the country as of the 1st of July.