Iceland Will be the First Country in Europe to Lift All Covid Restrictions

Published June 26th, 2021 - 07:14 GMT
Scenery view of Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland
Scenery view of Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland (Shutterstock)
Highlights
'Offer access to disinfectant at entrances and near surfaces touched by large numbers of people, such as touch keypads, shopping trolleys and cash registers.'

Iceland will be the first country in Europe to lift all its Covid-19 restrictions as it is set to scrap face masks and social distancing, the country's health minister said today.

The North Atlantic country will lift all its domestic restrictions on Saturday in accordance with recommendations made by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

Iceland's current Covid restrictions, which include a 300-person gathering limit, mandatory mask use for selected activities and a one-metre distancing rule, will all be lifted from midnight.

'We are restoring the society we are used to living in and which we have longed for,' Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir said on Friday morning. 

Iceland will be the first country in Europe to lift all its Covid-19 restrictions as it is set to scrap face masks and social distancing, the country's health minister said today.

The North Atlantic country will lift all its domestic restrictions on Saturday in accordance with recommendations made by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason.

Iceland's current Covid restrictions, which include a 300-person gathering limit, mandatory mask use for selected activities and a one-metre distancing rule, will all be lifted from midnight.

'We are restoring the society we are used to living in and which we have longed for,' Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir said on Friday morning. 

Information on the prevention measures on Iceland's Covid website read: 'Surfaces commonly touched by many people, such as door handles and handrails, should be properly cleaned and disinfected regularly.

'Offer access to disinfectant at entrances and near surfaces touched by large numbers of people, such as touch keypads, shopping trolleys and cash registers.'

Yesterday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason expressed his hope that Iceland will never again have to impose strict Covid measures, according to Iceland Review

Just more than 15 months since the first restrictions were imposed in Iceland, he said: 'I hope that we've reached the point where we no longer need to tighten measures within the borders. 

'We can expect the occasional infection, which shouldn't surprise us, for the reason that there are individuals who haven't been vaccinated, even though we've managed to vaccinate the lion's share of the country and most of those whom we intend to inoculate.

'Vaccines aren't 100% effective, but even though they won't stave off infections in everyone, they are extremely effective in preventing serious illness.'

From July 1, travellers with valid Covid vaccination certificates will no longer have to undergo testing at Iceland's borders, according to Iceland Review.

The same will apply to children born in 2005 or later, meaning they will no longer be required to present a negative PCR test when arriving in Iceland. 

Travellers who cannot present a valid certificate of vaccination will still be required to present a negative PCR test, undergo testing and a five-day quarantine. The regulations will be reviewed, and revised if necessary, on August 15. 

The government said 87 per cent of Icelanders have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, which it claims is the highest rate recorded among comparable countries.

According to their website, 386,715 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been given in total, while 258,852 residents have received at least one dose and 177,540 individuals have been fully vaccinated.

Prioritisation of the vaccine was abolished earlier this week and Covid jabs will be given out following the same regulations as other infectious diseases, according to the country's Ministry of Health. It is offering Moderna, Pfizer, and Janssen vaccines.

Iceland's testing process gave the Nordic island a unique insight into the behaviour of the virus and allowed them to generally resist a large-scale lockdown like those seen across the continent.

Early on in the pandemic in April last year, the country had the highest proportion of coronavirus cases in the world - simply due to their extensive screenings.

Iceland managed to get its first wave under control quickly using testing and contact-tracing and by May 2020, people had started to declare the country Covid-free, according to the BBC.

But by late summer, Iceland was hit by a more aggressive wave of the contagious virus after two tourists who had tested positive broke isolation rules.

The Nordic country put strict measures in place on their borders following the outbreak, including mandatory testing at the airport and passenger quarantine on arrival.

A combination of factors are thought to have given Iceland the upper hand in battling Covid, including their remoteness, the public's respect for scientific expertise, and the volcanic island's emergency response capabilities.

Now, the country of 360,000 people has an infection rate of just 1.6 per 100,000 residents on a two-week average.

In total, only 30 people have died out of a total of 6,637 infections, according to official figures.

No new cases of Covid-19 have been detected in Iceland since June 15, according to the latest data from the Government's coronavirus website.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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