First European country to lift restrictions now rushes to re-impose them as cases spike

First European country to lift restrictions now rushes to re-impose them as cases spike
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. Credit: Unsplash

The first European country to lift domestic restrictions to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, Iceland, announced on Friday that it would reimpose them following a spike in infections.

Included in the measures that will be imposed as of Sunday 25 July is the general limiting of gatherings in Iceland to 200 people, re-imposing the one-metre social distancing rule and tighter health checks on (vaccinate) travellers, which will take effect on Tuesday 27 July.

Speaking on public television after a ministerial meeting in Egilsstadir, in the east of Iceland, Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said vaccination was well advanced in the island, “and we can be proud of that,” but measures still needed to be taken “to control the current situation.”

“On one hand, we notice that the infections are much higher than we would have wished, but what we need to observe more are the serious cases and their proportion of the number of infections,” Public Health Minister Svandis Svavarsdottir told public television.

From midnight on Sunday until 13 August, bars and restaurants will also have to close at 11:00 PM, whilst swimming pools and sports halls will only be able to open at 75% capacity, and facemasks will be compulsory indoors.

About one month ago, the country became the first in Europe to lift all its domestic restrictions, however, on 12 July, it faced a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases for the first time since October, registering 355 new infections, despite over 70% of the total population being vaccinated.

Three-quarters of these were among vaccinated people, and most were linked to the Delta variant of the virus, according to the health authorities. The last such spike in the country had been in late October.

Other European countries

Cases are spiking across most of Europe as the Delta variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the region, resulting in many countries tightening restrictions of imposing new measures.

Most notably, in France and in Italy, coronavirus passes proving that someone has been fully vaccinated, has recently tested negative or has a recent immunisation against the virus will be needed to eat and drink inside a restaurant or bar, or to visit museums and cinemas.

Meanwhile, on the European Centre for Disease Control's (ECDC) Covid travel map, many popular holiday destinations including Spain, Greece and Italy have either turned red or orange.

Those returning from a red zone without being fully vaccinated or having a recovery certificate have to get tested on day 1 or 2 after they come home and quarantine until they get a negative test result.

The Brussels Times

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