FAQ

How can I avoid infection?

The most important thing to do is wash your hands thoroughly and often,with water and soap, for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer. When you arrive at work or come home, the first thing you should do is wash your hands thoroughly. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid close contact with others who have symptoms of a cold, such as sneezing or coughing, and maintain a distance of at least two (2) meters from them. If you need to cough or sneeze,do it into your elbow and not into your hands or into the air around you. Be particularly careful with common surfaces in areas used by many people; i.e.,handrails, elevator buttons, touchscreens, POS machines in stores, and door handles. Greet people with a smile rather than a handshake.

Who is at risk for severe symptoms?

The probability of severe illness increases with age, particularly after age 50. Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions are also at increased risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19. It is not known precisely how much greater the risk is when such underlying conditions exist; however, comparisons of mild and severe cases show clearly that underlying medical conditions were far more common among the severely ill than among those with mild cases of COVID-19. These underlying conditions are: hypertension/heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and cancer. 

People who smoke appear to be at greater risk of severe illness, but the possibility cannot be excluded that these people may actually suffer from COPD, which exacerbates the severity of COVID-19.

At this point, it is uncertain whether immunosuppressive therapy (i.e.,drugs such as steroids, methotrexate, or biotech drugs) increase the likelihood of severe COVID-19 infection.

I think I am sick and have caught COVID-19. What shall I do?

Please call 1700 (or +354 544 4113 if you are calling from a foreign phone number) if you have symptoms. Please do not visit any clinic or hospital where others may also be exposed without calling ahead. Call first and ask for instructions. 

Why has a ban been placed on gatherings?

The number of infected people is increasing every day, and the number of so-called third-degree infections is rising as well. There are also cases that cannot be traced to other individuals’ travel abroad. This indicates the risk that COVID-19 could now begin to spread faster between people than it has thus far. 

At the same time, a group of Landspítali hospital employees are in quarantine, and further spread of the disease could reduce the hospital’s capacity to help those who need it. 

As a result, the Chief Epidemiologist is of the opinion that this is the right time to take necessary steps to slow the spread of the disease, in order to increase the likelihood that the healthcare system can help those who become ill with COVID-19, as well as providing other emergency service.

When does the ban on gatherings begin and end?

The ban is valid for several weeks starting March 16 and ending Mai 4.

On March 24 it was modified so that only 20 people can gather at a time.

Who needs quarantine?

All residents in Iceland that enter the country are obligated to go into 14 days of quarantine regardless of where they come from. This also applies to Icelanders living abroad who are coming to Iceland. Furthermore, those who have been in contact with people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 must quarantine themselves at home.

Others, such as children of parents without symptoms, need not quarantine themselves. It is desirable that household members who have not previously been exposed to the virus remain separate from individuals who are in quarantine — i.e., sleep in another room or another bed, use another bathroom if possible — otherwise, you should clean all surfaces thoroughly with sanitizer after use, and do not share towels. If the quarantined person becomes ill, other members of the household must quarantine themselves.

Important: People in home quarantine must let a clinic now if they are in quarantine, e.g. at heilsuvera.is or by calling their nearest clinic or 1700.

If a member of my household has a cold, but no fever or body aches, is there a need to quarantine others in the household?

If it is known that a person has been exposed to COVID-19, all upper respiratory symptoms are suspicious and require that others in the household quarantine themselves. It is possible to ask for advice by calling 1700,calling your healthcare center, or using the online chat function on heilsuvera.is.

If someone in a teacher’s family is in quarantine, may that teacher continue to work?

If someone in a teacher’s family is in quarantine but has no symptoms,the teacher may continue to work. If a person in quarantine develops symptoms,they must be isolated, and others in their household must be quarantined.

May siblings of students in quarantine continue to attend school?

As long as the person in quarantine has no symptoms, other members ofthe household who have not been in contact with individuals infected withCOVID-19 may continue to attend school/work. It is important, however, toobserve strict hygiene measures, to be cautious, and if it is suspected that aquarantined person is developing symptoms, to seek advice by calling 1700,contacting a healthcare centre, or using the online chat function on thewebsite heilsuvera.is.

Must quarantined students’ families also quarantine themselves at the same time?

If the student concerned does not have symptoms but must be inquarantine, family members need not quarantine themselves unless they have beenin contact with an infected person. It is very important, however, to observestrict hygiene in the home and limit close contact as much as possible. 

See the Instructions for quarantined individuals.

If a person who has been exposed to the virus develops symptoms while inquarantine, it is vital that the exposed person contact their healthcare centreor call 1700 for advice.

I am in quarantine and need to stay in Reykjavík before I go back home outside the capital area. What shall I do?

There is no special accommodation for those in quarantine. You must handle this yourself and evaluate your situation. 

People in quarantine may interact with family and friends, and it is possible to book a hotel room and notify hotel staff of your situation. You areasked, however, to minimize your contact with other people, to give top priority to cleanliness, and follow other advice on hygiene and disease prevention.

Could people returning to Iceland from abroad be required to quarantine themselves again?

It has been assumed that people who have completed quarantine abroad will not need to quarantine themselves again, but this depends on circumstances. People who travel to high-risk areas on their way home and stay there for 24 hours or longer will need to quarantine themselves again. They will also need to re-enter quarantine if there are infected people sitting near them on the aircraft they take home to Iceland, or if they have close contact with someone who proves to be contagious.

Can I have a certificate confirming that I am quarantined?

Those who are quarantined by order of the healthcare authorities can now enter their personal information on the website heilsuvera.is and receive a certificate confirming their quarantine status. The certificates are provided free of charge. It should be noted that in order to register on heilsuvera.is, the user must have a so-called digital certificate (e-ID).

Those who do not have an e-ID and cannot use the heilsuvera.is website should contact their healthcare centre. The healthcare centre will then forward information on the quarantined individual to the Chief Epidemiologist. In order to receive confirmation of quarantine, those who need such confirmation can request it by sending an e-mail to mottaka@landlaeknir.is, with the subject line: Confirmation of quarantine.

May I go to the doctor in spite of the ban on gatherings?

Yes, but onlyif it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the banon gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services thatrequire physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. Thisdoes not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait.People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointmentsand surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those whosuspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go directly toa doctor or healthcare centre. Instead, they should place a telephone call to1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which isopen during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function onthe website heilsuvera.is.

May I go to the dentist in spite of the ban on gatherings?

Yes, but only if it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait.People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointments and surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those who suspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go directly to a doctor or healthcare centre. Instead, they should place a telephone call to 1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which isopen during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function on the website heilsuvera.is.

Is it possible to provide healthcare services outside Government-operated healthcare institutions?

Yes, but only if it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait. People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointments and surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those who suspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go their scheduled appointment. Instead, they should place a telephone call to 1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which is open during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function on the website heilsuvera.is.

May I go to my physiotherapist during the ban on gatherings?

According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare service; therefore, those who need physiotherapy for rehabilitation may continue to go for therapy.

How can healthcare workers avoid infection?

It is very important that healthcare workers, like everyone else, be cautious and observe recommended hygiene practices. If an individual with COVID-19 symptoms requires emergency service, the number of employees tending that person should be limited to the extent possible, and every effort should be made to avoid allowing the patient to sit in a waiting room with other people. All exams and surgical procedures that can wait should be postponed until the infected person has recovered.

May I use public transport after I land at Keflavík Airport if I am coming from a high-risk area?

In general, people arriving in Iceland are advised to begin quarantine immediately and avoid using public transport from Keflavík. People need to use public transport to come to Iceland, but afterwards, they are asked to do everything they can to avoid using public transport and to minimize contact with other people.

You are therefore advised to drive rather than take a taxi, bus, or domestic flight. If you develop symptoms within two days of arriving in Iceland, the Chief Epidemiologist’s contagion tracing team will contact you and ask for details on your movements and contacts in the previous two days. Air quality is better in aircraft; therefore, those in your row and the two rows in front of you and behind you would be asked to quarantine themselves. If you travel by bus, however, all passengers in the coach must quarantine themselves. If you travel by car, only those passengers in the car with you will need to quarantine themselves.

If people who need to quarantine themselves do not have a car at Keflavík Airport, they can, for instance, ask family members or friends to drive two cars to Keflavík, leave one behind, and leave the keys so that the travelers can drive the car home. It is also possible to use a rental car.

Will flights to and from Iceland be cancelled because of the ban on gatherings?

No. Restrictions on gatherings do not affect international airports or international flights. It is recommended that hygiene measures be strengthened and that operators take every possible precaution so as to reduce the potential for infection.

May cruise ships come to Iceland during the ban on gatherings?

Yes. The restrictions do not apply to international harbours; therefore, ships may come to Iceland and depart from the country via international harbours.

Will all parties and entertainment be prohibited after the ban on gatherings?

Gatherings for fewer than 20 individuals are permitted (this applies from 24 March 2020). This applies to public and private gatherings alike. It is very important to comply with the rule on maintaining a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. This means that many events may need to be rescheduled.

Will dance halls, pubs, and such places be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes, from the 24 March 2020, these places will be closed.

Does the ban on gatherings include outdoor events?

Yes. Such gatherings are subject to the rules that apply to indoor gatherings, as regards the maximum number of people (20) and the required two (2) metres distance between individuals.

Can religious ceremonies take place during the ban on gatherings?

The restriction on gatherings also includes religious ceremonies where more than 20 people come together. Such ceremonies may include funerals, weddings, confirmations, baptisms, and other comparable ceremonies, whether they are held in a church or elsewhere. This means that many events may need to be rescheduled.

Can parties be held after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

Parties, dinner parties and all other events where people come together in private homes, in party locations, outdoors, or elsewhere are permitted, provided that there are fewer than 20 persons in attendance. In such instances, it must be guaranteed that the distance between individuals can be at least two (2) metres. It is not assumed that the required distance will apply to members of the same family, but other groups or individuals must be able to observe a distance of at least two (2) metres.

Can sporting events be held after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

As of the 24 March 2020, all organised sporting activities for children and adults, where the distance between people is less than two (2) meters and/or people share equipment is prohibited. This includes ski lifts. Sporting events are subject to the same rules as other gatherings: the events may take place if the combined number of competitors, family and friends, employees, and audience members does not exceed 20 persons. These restrictions could mean that many sporting events must be rescheduled. The Chief Epidemiologist has asked The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) to stop, for the time being, all organised sporting activities and events.

What rules apply to organised athletic activities during the ban on gatherings?

All organised athletic activities are prohibited while the ban on gatherings remains in effect. This also applies to organised athletic activities and practice sessions held outdoors.

Will cinemas and theatres be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Plays and film screenings may take place, provided that there are fewer than 100 persons present, including performers and employees, and provided that there is a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. This could make it necessary to disperse audience members throughout the hall and the stage, which in turn could mean that in practice, it is impossible to hold the event in question.

Will concerts be prohibited after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

Concerts may be held, provided that there are fewer than 20 persons present, including performers and employees, and provided that there is a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. At concerts, it should be assumed that there will be seating for all guests and that it may be necessary to disperse audience members throughout the hall. In practice, this could mean that it is not possible to hold such concerts.

Will museums and galleries be closed after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

All museums and galleries will be closed from the 24 March 2020, and may remain closed until 13 April 2020.

Can conferences, symposia, or large meetings take place during the ban on gatherings?

Courses, conferences, symposia, meetings, and classes where 20 people or more come together at once are prohibited. If fewer than 20 individuals come together for such an event, it must be ensured that the distance between individuals is at least two (2) metres.

In many cases, events will have to be rescheduled but for some it may be worth considering to use online options to host the events.

How will school activities be handled during the ban on gatherings?

School activities will be significantly limited during the ban on gatherings. In many cases, students cannot attend school but will pursue their studies via distance learning. In other cases, strict requirements are set concerning the permissible number of students and the minimum distance between them. 

The restrictions apply to pre-schools, primary schools, upper secondary schools (high schools), and universities, but they also apply to other educational institutions, recreation centers, community centers, and athletic activities. 

How will pre-schools operate during the ban on gatherings?

Pre-schools may remain open and continue their activities if they guarantee that children are in small groups and kept separate as much as possible. Furthermore, the pre-school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.

How will primary schools operate during the ban on gatherings?

Primary schools may carry out instruction in school buildings if they guarantee that no more than 20 students are in the same classroom and that students do not mix with other groups; for instance, in cafeterias or at recess. Furthermore, the school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.

How will upper secondary schools (high schools) operate during the ban on gatherings?

Upper secondary schools will be closed, and instruction will take place via distance learning to the extent possible.

How will universities operate during the ban on gatherings?

Universities will be closed, and instruction will take place via distance learning to the extent possible.

How long will these restrictions on school activities remain in effect?

These restrictions will be under continuous review so that they can be eased or temporarily lengthened as needed.

Why are upper secondary schools (high schools) and universities closed, and not primary schools and pre-schools?

Few children and youngsters develop severe COVID-19 symptoms, and they become seriously ill less often than adults do. Older students are also better equipped to engage in distance learning than younger students are. Schools are important socially, and it is vital that students have the opportunity to pursue their studies, even if the format of their studies may change temporarily.

Is it safe for children to play with their friends from school outside classes?

Schools, pre-schools, and athletic organisations have carefully organised their schedules for the days and weeks to come in order to comply with the Minister of Health and Social Security’s instructions restricting school activities and gatherings. It is extremely important that children’s parents and guardians simultaneously reduce the number of people in their children’s contact network outside of school in order to avoid working against these measures. See further instructions.

May parents keep their children at home if they wish?

Healthy children are encouraged to attend school. Students who show no signs of being ill should go to school. No changes have been made to rules on compulsory schooling for primary school-aged children. On the other hand, it is crucial that students stay home from school if they have symptoms that resemble COVID-19 symptoms; i.e., fever, cough, body aches, or fatigue.

What impact will the ban on gatherings have on smaller workplaces?

Workplaces with fewer than 20 employees are instructed to organise workspaces so that a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals can be maintained. It is important to make every effort to limit contact in the work place and to implement remote working where possible. Each workplace must then arrange its own space and activities so as to comply with the ban on gatherings and adjust to circumstances at any given time.

Is it necessary to close large workplaces during the ban on gatherings?

It is likely that some workplaces will need either to close or to make major changes in their working arrangements. All workplaces must ensure that no more than 20 people are in the same space at the same time, and that a distance of at least two (2) metres can be maintained between the individuals who are in the workplace. It is important to make every effort to limit contact in the workplace and to implement remote working where possible. Each workplace must then arrange its own space and activities so as to comply with the ban on gatherings and adjust to circumstances at any given time.

When should I use a mask?

If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.

Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub

If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

When is it appropriate to use gloves, andwhat is the proper way to use them?

Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them wellwith a clean cloth or paper towel before touching and/or eating food. Alwayswash your hands after going to the toilet, whenever your hands get dirty, andat the end of your shift at work. 

If no sink is nearby, use hand sanitiserinstead of washing your hands. 

You should consider all gloves unclean. Therisk of using gloves at all times is that you will tend to forget to wash yourhands and forget to change gloves between tasks. 

You should use gloves for “dirty” tasks suchas cleaning.You should also use them if you need to use your hands to touchfood that is to be eaten by others and is not rinsed or cooked. Do not switchfrom one task to another without changing gloves. You should wash or sanitiseyour hands both before and after using gloves. 

If you use gloves (i.e., plastic gloves)where food is being prepared for consumption (in bakeries and restaurants, forexample) you must put on clean gloves after each preparation and throw away theold ones. 

If other staff members wish to use gloves,they can use gloves made of plastic, vinyl, or nitrile. Latex gloves are notpreferred because of the risk of an allergic reaction among customers.

 

Will stores be closed during the ban on gatherings?

There are no plans to close stores, but stores must ensure that no more than 20 people are inside the store at any one time.

An exception is made for grocery stores and drugstores, which may allow up to 100 persons inside at a time, provided that a distance of two (2) metres is maintained between individuals. Those grocery stores that are larger than 1,000 square metres (m2) in size may allow one additional customer inside for each 10 m2 over and above 1,000 m2, up to a maximum of 200 customers in all.

It is a good idea to send one person from your household to do the shopping, organise your shopping by making a list, take care not to stand too close to others in line, and comply with the rule of maintaining a distance of two (2) metres between individuals.

What is the best way to shop for groceries for the household?

Grocery stores may remain open, but it is recommended that no more than one person from each household enter the store at the same time. It is therefore recommended that you make a grocery list before you go to the store, so that you can complete your shopping in the shortest time possible. While in the store, you must take care to maintain a distance of at least two (2) metres from other people, including when you are waiting in line at the cash register. Some stores have begun to mark the floor in the area near the cash registers so as to indicate where people should stand in order to keep the required distance.

Many grocery stores and drugstores offer delivery services, and people in quarantine or isolation, as well as others, can take advantage of this. Please remember that because of the surge in demand, those who offer these services may be very busy.

Will shopping centres be closed?

Each store in a shopping centre is a separate unit within the centre. It must be guaranteed that no more than 20 people at a time are inside each store. Common areas should be organised so that a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals can be maintained.

No events shall be planned that take place largely in common areas, such as special sales or other special events designed to attract large numbers of people.

Will the police monitor the number of people in stores?

No. We trust store owners and others to follow the instructions concerning the ban on gatherings.

Will swimming pools be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes, swimming pools will be closed as of 24 March 2020.

Will gyms be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes. Gyms will be closed beginning on 24 March 2020.

May I go for a haircut or to a make-up or beauty salon during the ban on gatherings?

No. Beginning on 24 March, hair salons and make-up or beauty salons will be closed.

May I go for a massage or to my physiotherapist during the ban on gatherings?

Beginning on 24 March, all massage parlours and other such activities requiring close physical proximity will be closed. If you need physiotherapy for rehabilitation, such therapy is authorised, provided that aggressive hygiene measures are observed.

May I go to a game room or use lottery machines during the ban on gatherings?

No. Beginning on 24 March, game rooms and lottery machines will be closed.

How can I avoid infection?

The most important thing to do is wash your hands thoroughly and often,with water and soap, for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer. When you arrive at work or come home, the first thing you should do is wash your hands thoroughly. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid close contact with others who have symptoms of a cold, such as sneezing or coughing, and maintain a distance of at least two (2) meters from them. If you need to cough or sneeze,do it into your elbow and not into your hands or into the air around you. Be particularly careful with common surfaces in areas used by many people; i.e.,handrails, elevator buttons, touchscreens, POS machines in stores, and door handles. Greet people with a smile rather than a handshake.

Who is at risk for severe symptoms?

The probability of severe illness increases with age, particularly after age 50. Individuals with certain underlying medical conditions are also at increased risk of severe illness if they catch COVID-19. It is not known precisely how much greater the risk is when such underlying conditions exist; however, comparisons of mild and severe cases show clearly that underlying medical conditions were far more common among the severely ill than among those with mild cases of COVID-19. These underlying conditions are: hypertension/heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and cancer. 

People who smoke appear to be at greater risk of severe illness, but the possibility cannot be excluded that these people may actually suffer from COPD, which exacerbates the severity of COVID-19.

At this point, it is uncertain whether immunosuppressive therapy (i.e.,drugs such as steroids, methotrexate, or biotech drugs) increase the likelihood of severe COVID-19 infection.

I think I am sick and have caught COVID-19. What shall I do?

Please call 1700 (or +354 544 4113 if you are calling from a foreign phone number) if you have symptoms. Please do not visit any clinic or hospital where others may also be exposed without calling ahead. Call first and ask for instructions. 

Why has a ban been placed on gatherings?

The number of infected people is increasing every day, and the number of so-called third-degree infections is rising as well. There are also cases that cannot be traced to other individuals’ travel abroad. This indicates the risk that COVID-19 could now begin to spread faster between people than it has thus far. 

At the same time, a group of Landspítali hospital employees are in quarantine, and further spread of the disease could reduce the hospital’s capacity to help those who need it. 

As a result, the Chief Epidemiologist is of the opinion that this is the right time to take necessary steps to slow the spread of the disease, in order to increase the likelihood that the healthcare system can help those who become ill with COVID-19, as well as providing other emergency service.

When does the ban on gatherings begin and end?

The ban is valid for several weeks starting March 16 and ending Mai 4.

On March 24 it was modified so that only 20 people can gather at a time.

Who needs quarantine?

All residents in Iceland that enter the country are obligated to go into 14 days of quarantine regardless of where they come from. This also applies to Icelanders living abroad who are coming to Iceland. Furthermore, those who have been in contact with people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 must quarantine themselves at home.

Others, such as children of parents without symptoms, need not quarantine themselves. It is desirable that household members who have not previously been exposed to the virus remain separate from individuals who are in quarantine — i.e., sleep in another room or another bed, use another bathroom if possible — otherwise, you should clean all surfaces thoroughly with sanitizer after use, and do not share towels. If the quarantined person becomes ill, other members of the household must quarantine themselves.

Important: People in home quarantine must let a clinic now if they are in quarantine, e.g. at heilsuvera.is or by calling their nearest clinic or 1700.

If a member of my household has a cold, but no fever or body aches, is there a need to quarantine others in the household?

If it is known that a person has been exposed to COVID-19, all upper respiratory symptoms are suspicious and require that others in the household quarantine themselves. It is possible to ask for advice by calling 1700,calling your healthcare center, or using the online chat function on heilsuvera.is.

If someone in a teacher’s family is in quarantine, may that teacher continue to work?

If someone in a teacher’s family is in quarantine but has no symptoms,the teacher may continue to work. If a person in quarantine develops symptoms,they must be isolated, and others in their household must be quarantined.

May siblings of students in quarantine continue to attend school?

As long as the person in quarantine has no symptoms, other members ofthe household who have not been in contact with individuals infected withCOVID-19 may continue to attend school/work. It is important, however, toobserve strict hygiene measures, to be cautious, and if it is suspected that aquarantined person is developing symptoms, to seek advice by calling 1700,contacting a healthcare centre, or using the online chat function on thewebsite heilsuvera.is.

Must quarantined students’ families also quarantine themselves at the same time?

If the student concerned does not have symptoms but must be inquarantine, family members need not quarantine themselves unless they have beenin contact with an infected person. It is very important, however, to observestrict hygiene in the home and limit close contact as much as possible. 

See the Instructions for quarantined individuals.

If a person who has been exposed to the virus develops symptoms while inquarantine, it is vital that the exposed person contact their healthcare centreor call 1700 for advice.

I am in quarantine and need to stay in Reykjavík before I go back home outside the capital area. What shall I do?

There is no special accommodation for those in quarantine. You must handle this yourself and evaluate your situation. 

People in quarantine may interact with family and friends, and it is possible to book a hotel room and notify hotel staff of your situation. You areasked, however, to minimize your contact with other people, to give top priority to cleanliness, and follow other advice on hygiene and disease prevention.

Could people returning to Iceland from abroad be required to quarantine themselves again?

It has been assumed that people who have completed quarantine abroad will not need to quarantine themselves again, but this depends on circumstances. People who travel to high-risk areas on their way home and stay there for 24 hours or longer will need to quarantine themselves again. They will also need to re-enter quarantine if there are infected people sitting near them on the aircraft they take home to Iceland, or if they have close contact with someone who proves to be contagious.

Can I have a certificate confirming that I am quarantined?

Those who are quarantined by order of the healthcare authorities can now enter their personal information on the website heilsuvera.is and receive a certificate confirming their quarantine status. The certificates are provided free of charge. It should be noted that in order to register on heilsuvera.is, the user must have a so-called digital certificate (e-ID).

Those who do not have an e-ID and cannot use the heilsuvera.is website should contact their healthcare centre. The healthcare centre will then forward information on the quarantined individual to the Chief Epidemiologist. In order to receive confirmation of quarantine, those who need such confirmation can request it by sending an e-mail to mottaka@landlaeknir.is, with the subject line: Confirmation of quarantine.

What impact will the ban on gatherings have on smaller workplaces?

Workplaces with fewer than 20 employees are instructed to organise workspaces so that a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals can be maintained. It is important to make every effort to limit contact in the work place and to implement remote working where possible. Each workplace must then arrange its own space and activities so as to comply with the ban on gatherings and adjust to circumstances at any given time.

Is it necessary to close large workplaces during the ban on gatherings?

It is likely that some workplaces will need either to close or to make major changes in their working arrangements. All workplaces must ensure that no more than 20 people are in the same space at the same time, and that a distance of at least two (2) metres can be maintained between the individuals who are in the workplace. It is important to make every effort to limit contact in the workplace and to implement remote working where possible. Each workplace must then arrange its own space and activities so as to comply with the ban on gatherings and adjust to circumstances at any given time.

When should I use a mask?

If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.

Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

Masks are effective only when used in combination with frequent hand-cleaning with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub

If you wear a mask, then you must know how to use it and dispose of it properly.

When is it appropriate to use gloves, andwhat is the proper way to use them?

Wash your hands thoroughly and dry them wellwith a clean cloth or paper towel before touching and/or eating food. Alwayswash your hands after going to the toilet, whenever your hands get dirty, andat the end of your shift at work. 

If no sink is nearby, use hand sanitiserinstead of washing your hands. 

You should consider all gloves unclean. Therisk of using gloves at all times is that you will tend to forget to wash yourhands and forget to change gloves between tasks. 

You should use gloves for “dirty” tasks suchas cleaning.You should also use them if you need to use your hands to touchfood that is to be eaten by others and is not rinsed or cooked. Do not switchfrom one task to another without changing gloves. You should wash or sanitiseyour hands both before and after using gloves. 

If you use gloves (i.e., plastic gloves)where food is being prepared for consumption (in bakeries and restaurants, forexample) you must put on clean gloves after each preparation and throw away theold ones. 

If other staff members wish to use gloves,they can use gloves made of plastic, vinyl, or nitrile. Latex gloves are notpreferred because of the risk of an allergic reaction among customers.

 

How will school activities be handled during the ban on gatherings?

School activities will be significantly limited during the ban on gatherings. In many cases, students cannot attend school but will pursue their studies via distance learning. In other cases, strict requirements are set concerning the permissible number of students and the minimum distance between them. 

The restrictions apply to pre-schools, primary schools, upper secondary schools (high schools), and universities, but they also apply to other educational institutions, recreation centers, community centers, and athletic activities. 

How will pre-schools operate during the ban on gatherings?

Pre-schools may remain open and continue their activities if they guarantee that children are in small groups and kept separate as much as possible. Furthermore, the pre-school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.

How will primary schools operate during the ban on gatherings?

Primary schools may carry out instruction in school buildings if they guarantee that no more than 20 students are in the same classroom and that students do not mix with other groups; for instance, in cafeterias or at recess. Furthermore, the school buildings must be cleaned or disinfected after each day.

How will upper secondary schools (high schools) operate during the ban on gatherings?

Upper secondary schools will be closed, and instruction will take place via distance learning to the extent possible.

How will universities operate during the ban on gatherings?

Universities will be closed, and instruction will take place via distance learning to the extent possible.

How long will these restrictions on school activities remain in effect?

These restrictions will be under continuous review so that they can be eased or temporarily lengthened as needed.

Why are upper secondary schools (high schools) and universities closed, and not primary schools and pre-schools?

Few children and youngsters develop severe COVID-19 symptoms, and they become seriously ill less often than adults do. Older students are also better equipped to engage in distance learning than younger students are. Schools are important socially, and it is vital that students have the opportunity to pursue their studies, even if the format of their studies may change temporarily.

Is it safe for children to play with their friends from school outside classes?

Schools, pre-schools, and athletic organisations have carefully organised their schedules for the days and weeks to come in order to comply with the Minister of Health and Social Security’s instructions restricting school activities and gatherings. It is extremely important that children’s parents and guardians simultaneously reduce the number of people in their children’s contact network outside of school in order to avoid working against these measures. See further instructions.

May parents keep their children at home if they wish?

Healthy children are encouraged to attend school. Students who show no signs of being ill should go to school. No changes have been made to rules on compulsory schooling for primary school-aged children. On the other hand, it is crucial that students stay home from school if they have symptoms that resemble COVID-19 symptoms; i.e., fever, cough, body aches, or fatigue.

Will all parties and entertainment be prohibited after the ban on gatherings?

Gatherings for fewer than 20 individuals are permitted (this applies from 24 March 2020). This applies to public and private gatherings alike. It is very important to comply with the rule on maintaining a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. This means that many events may need to be rescheduled.

Will dance halls, pubs, and such places be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes, from the 24 March 2020, these places will be closed.

Does the ban on gatherings include outdoor events?

Yes. Such gatherings are subject to the rules that apply to indoor gatherings, as regards the maximum number of people (20) and the required two (2) metres distance between individuals.

Can religious ceremonies take place during the ban on gatherings?

The restriction on gatherings also includes religious ceremonies where more than 20 people come together. Such ceremonies may include funerals, weddings, confirmations, baptisms, and other comparable ceremonies, whether they are held in a church or elsewhere. This means that many events may need to be rescheduled.

Can parties be held after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

Parties, dinner parties and all other events where people come together in private homes, in party locations, outdoors, or elsewhere are permitted, provided that there are fewer than 20 persons in attendance. In such instances, it must be guaranteed that the distance between individuals can be at least two (2) metres. It is not assumed that the required distance will apply to members of the same family, but other groups or individuals must be able to observe a distance of at least two (2) metres.

Can sporting events be held after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

As of the 24 March 2020, all organised sporting activities for children and adults, where the distance between people is less than two (2) meters and/or people share equipment is prohibited. This includes ski lifts. Sporting events are subject to the same rules as other gatherings: the events may take place if the combined number of competitors, family and friends, employees, and audience members does not exceed 20 persons. These restrictions could mean that many sporting events must be rescheduled. The Chief Epidemiologist has asked The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) to stop, for the time being, all organised sporting activities and events.

What rules apply to organised athletic activities during the ban on gatherings?

All organised athletic activities are prohibited while the ban on gatherings remains in effect. This also applies to organised athletic activities and practice sessions held outdoors.

Will cinemas and theatres be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Plays and film screenings may take place, provided that there are fewer than 100 persons present, including performers and employees, and provided that there is a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. This could make it necessary to disperse audience members throughout the hall and the stage, which in turn could mean that in practice, it is impossible to hold the event in question.

Will concerts be prohibited after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

Concerts may be held, provided that there are fewer than 20 persons present, including performers and employees, and provided that there is a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals. At concerts, it should be assumed that there will be seating for all guests and that it may be necessary to disperse audience members throughout the hall. In practice, this could mean that it is not possible to hold such concerts.

Will museums and galleries be closed after the ban on gatherings takes effect?

All museums and galleries will be closed from the 24 March 2020, and may remain closed until 13 April 2020.

Can conferences, symposia, or large meetings take place during the ban on gatherings?

Courses, conferences, symposia, meetings, and classes where 20 people or more come together at once are prohibited. If fewer than 20 individuals come together for such an event, it must be ensured that the distance between individuals is at least two (2) metres.

In many cases, events will have to be rescheduled but for some it may be worth considering to use online options to host the events.

Will stores be closed during the ban on gatherings?

There are no plans to close stores, but stores must ensure that no more than 20 people are inside the store at any one time.

An exception is made for grocery stores and drugstores, which may allow up to 100 persons inside at a time, provided that a distance of two (2) metres is maintained between individuals. Those grocery stores that are larger than 1,000 square metres (m2) in size may allow one additional customer inside for each 10 m2 over and above 1,000 m2, up to a maximum of 200 customers in all.

It is a good idea to send one person from your household to do the shopping, organise your shopping by making a list, take care not to stand too close to others in line, and comply with the rule of maintaining a distance of two (2) metres between individuals.

What is the best way to shop for groceries for the household?

Grocery stores may remain open, but it is recommended that no more than one person from each household enter the store at the same time. It is therefore recommended that you make a grocery list before you go to the store, so that you can complete your shopping in the shortest time possible. While in the store, you must take care to maintain a distance of at least two (2) metres from other people, including when you are waiting in line at the cash register. Some stores have begun to mark the floor in the area near the cash registers so as to indicate where people should stand in order to keep the required distance.

Many grocery stores and drugstores offer delivery services, and people in quarantine or isolation, as well as others, can take advantage of this. Please remember that because of the surge in demand, those who offer these services may be very busy.

Will shopping centres be closed?

Each store in a shopping centre is a separate unit within the centre. It must be guaranteed that no more than 20 people at a time are inside each store. Common areas should be organised so that a distance of at least two (2) metres between individuals can be maintained.

No events shall be planned that take place largely in common areas, such as special sales or other special events designed to attract large numbers of people.

Will the police monitor the number of people in stores?

No. We trust store owners and others to follow the instructions concerning the ban on gatherings.

Will swimming pools be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes, swimming pools will be closed as of 24 March 2020.

Will gyms be closed during the ban on gatherings?

Yes. Gyms will be closed beginning on 24 March 2020.

May I go for a haircut or to a make-up or beauty salon during the ban on gatherings?

No. Beginning on 24 March, hair salons and make-up or beauty salons will be closed.

May I go for a massage or to my physiotherapist during the ban on gatherings?

Beginning on 24 March, all massage parlours and other such activities requiring close physical proximity will be closed. If you need physiotherapy for rehabilitation, such therapy is authorised, provided that aggressive hygiene measures are observed.

May I go to a game room or use lottery machines during the ban on gatherings?

No. Beginning on 24 March, game rooms and lottery machines will be closed.

May I go to the doctor in spite of the ban on gatherings?

Yes, but onlyif it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the banon gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services thatrequire physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. Thisdoes not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait.People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointmentsand surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those whosuspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go directly toa doctor or healthcare centre. Instead, they should place a telephone call to1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which isopen during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function onthe website heilsuvera.is.

May I go to the dentist in spite of the ban on gatherings?

Yes, but only if it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait.People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointments and surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those who suspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go directly to a doctor or healthcare centre. Instead, they should place a telephone call to 1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which isopen during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function on the website heilsuvera.is.

Is it possible to provide healthcare services outside Government-operated healthcare institutions?

Yes, but only if it is absolutely necessary. According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare services that cannot wait. People are therefore encouraged to postpone all elective doctor’s appointments and surgical procedures, as well as all doctor’s appointments that can wait.

Those who suspect that they may have COVID-19 should absolutely not go their scheduled appointment. Instead, they should place a telephone call to 1700, which is open 24 hours a day, or call their healthcare centre, which is open during daily business hours. They may also use the online chat function on the website heilsuvera.is.

May I go to my physiotherapist during the ban on gatherings?

According to the stricter provisions of the ban on gatherings, which take effect on 24 March, all activities and services that require physical contact or close proximity between people are prohibited. This does not apply, however, to necessary healthcare service; therefore, those who need physiotherapy for rehabilitation may continue to go for therapy.

How can healthcare workers avoid infection?

It is very important that healthcare workers, like everyone else, be cautious and observe recommended hygiene practices. If an individual with COVID-19 symptoms requires emergency service, the number of employees tending that person should be limited to the extent possible, and every effort should be made to avoid allowing the patient to sit in a waiting room with other people. All exams and surgical procedures that can wait should be postponed until the infected person has recovered.

May I use public transport after I land at Keflavík Airport if I am coming from a high-risk area?

In general, people arriving in Iceland are advised to begin quarantine immediately and avoid using public transport from Keflavík. People need to use public transport to come to Iceland, but afterwards, they are asked to do everything they can to avoid using public transport and to minimize contact with other people.

You are therefore advised to drive rather than take a taxi, bus, or domestic flight. If you develop symptoms within two days of arriving in Iceland, the Chief Epidemiologist’s contagion tracing team will contact you and ask for details on your movements and contacts in the previous two days. Air quality is better in aircraft; therefore, those in your row and the two rows in front of you and behind you would be asked to quarantine themselves. If you travel by bus, however, all passengers in the coach must quarantine themselves. If you travel by car, only those passengers in the car with you will need to quarantine themselves.

If people who need to quarantine themselves do not have a car at Keflavík Airport, they can, for instance, ask family members or friends to drive two cars to Keflavík, leave one behind, and leave the keys so that the travelers can drive the car home. It is also possible to use a rental car.

Will flights to and from Iceland be cancelled because of the ban on gatherings?

No. Restrictions on gatherings do not affect international airports or international flights. It is recommended that hygiene measures be strengthened and that operators take every possible precaution so as to reduce the potential for infection.

May cruise ships come to Iceland during the ban on gatherings?

Yes. The restrictions do not apply to international harbours; therefore, ships may come to Iceland and depart from the country via international harbours.

You can find more questions and answers related to COVID-19 on the Directorate of Health website.

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