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‘Restoring the society we have longed for’: Iceland dropping domestic Covid restrictions on masks, social distancing

‘Restoring the society we have longed for’: Iceland dropping domestic Covid restrictions on masks, social distancing
Iceland’s health minister has announced that social distancing will be scrapped and that locals will be able to be move mask-free from this weekend, as the country ditches the last of its domestic Covid-19 curbs.

Unveiling the plans to lift the domestic Covid restrictions, Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir told a press conference on Friday that the total relaxation of measures would start from midnight. 

“We are restoring the society we are used to living in and which we have longed for,” Svavarsdóttir said. 

The health minister also posted confirmation of the move on Twitter, congratulating fellow Icelanders on the news.

From Saturday, people in Iceland can expect the removal of restrictions including the two-meter distancing rule and the wearing of masks. There will also be no limits on the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings. 

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The removal of these measures means that Iceland will most likely be the first European country to fully ditch Covid measures, the health minister indicated.

Whilst the domestic measures are set for a total relaxation, Iceland is still taking precautions to reduce the risk of more Covid-19 infections crossing its borders. Incoming visitors must undergo two Covid tests, one on arrival and the second five days later while still in quarantine. Alternatively, they can skip the double testing regime if they undergo a 14-day quarantine period.

Iceland has recorded a very low number of Covid cases since the outbreak of the pandemic, reporting 6,637 confirmed infections and 30 deaths. The country underwent a series of lockdowns during the pandemic to curb rising infections, and relied on test and tracing systems to limit the spread.

As of Friday, the government has invited all Icelanders eligible for vaccination to get innoculated. Over 70% of the people living in Iceland have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and almost half are fully vaccinated, according to data from Iceland Review.

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