Iceland Slips Into Partial Lockdown Barely Four Weeks After Lifting All Restrictions
As the island nation's chief epidemiologist put it, commenting on the recent exponential growth, the new coronavirus wave is definitely here, for the most part amongst the vaccinated.
Four weeks after having lifted all of its anti-coronavirus measures, Iceland is now once again slumping into a partial lockdown, the news outlet Iceland Review reported.
The reason for the U-turn are the dozens of new cases of infection registered daily, a significant number in a country with only 360,000 inhabitants. Iceland is witnessing an increased spread of infection, and the authorities fear that the more contagious delta strain of the virus will gain a foothold in the island country.
To offset the negative development, starting from Sunday, bars and nightclubs must close at midnight, face masks must be used indoors where people meet, a maximum of 200 people can gather at events, and the one-metre rule will be re-introduced. Swimming pools will remain open, but won't be allowed to work above 75 percent capacity.
7 July, 05:58 GMT
The restrictions are based on recommendations from Chief Epidemiologist Thórólfur Gudnason, who emphasised that COVID-19 case numbers were rising at an exponential rate despite the country’s high vaccination rates. He also emphasised that “the new coronavirus wave is definitely here”, for the most part amongst the vaccinated.
As of now, around 90 percent of all residents over age 16 have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
A month ago, on 26 June, Iceland lifted all domestic COVID-19 restrictions, one year and four months after the very first ones were imposed due to the pandemic. The country also loosened border restrictions on 1 July, allowing travellers with proof of vaccination or previous infection to enter the country without testing or quarantine, becoming the poster child of the international media for successfully battling the epidemic with only slight damage to the economy.
However, infection rates have risen over the past two weeks, and Iceland now reports 371 active cases, up from 60 cases just eight days ago.
All in all, Island has seen 7,148 cases of COVID-19, with 30 fatalities.