Iceland to open discos, bars and gyms next week

Iceland announced Friday it would reopen discos, bars and gyms next week and allow gatherings of up to 200 people, as new cases of COVID-19 continue to fall.

Iceland’s Ministry of Health announced it would allow bars and nightclubs to open their doors once again on Monday, though they will have to close them again by 11 pm.

Restrictions on public gatherings will remain in place but the cap will be lifted from 50 to 200.

The ministry has followed the recommendations of health officials, who said earlier in the week that their studies of the spread of the virus made them “think it is safe to do so”.

Iceland had already eased its restrictions for the first time on 4 May by reopening its high schools and universities, museums and hairdressers.

Health officials have since noted that “the easing of restrictions… does not appear to have led to an increase in the number of new cases”.

The country’s swimming pools were also reopened on May 18.

Deprived of exercise machines for the past two months, fitness enthusiasts will also be able to hit the gym again from Monday.

The return comes with a few caveats as disinfection of machines is required before and after use, a minimum distance of two metres (six feet) must be maintained and gyms are only allowed to operate at half their normal capacity.

The subarctic island has recorded 1,803 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, only five of which were recorded in May, and 10 deaths.

To date the country has tested 58,295 people out of 364,000 inhabitants, or 16 percent, making it a world leader in testing per capita.

The government announced in the middle of May that it intended to reopen its borders by June 15, and plans to offer travellers arriving at its only international airport the possibility of being tested to avoid a 14-day quarantine.

A working group is due to publish its conclusions on the feasibility of this plan and its cost on Monday.

Agence France-Presse

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