Iceland shuts down night life to fight virus surge

Iceland on Friday ordered bars and discos closed and limited public gatherings to no more than 10 people to halt rising novel coronavirus cases.

The subarctic island country also ordered restaurants to shut by 9 pm and banned all indoor and outdoor sporting activities except for international matches.

The new rules, which will also allow schools to remain open, will take effect starting Saturday and remain in force until November 17.

“It is necessary to reinforce measures because the infection rate is not decreasing,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir told a Reykjavik press conference.

Previously public gatherings had been capped at 20 people but have now been cut to 10, except for supermarkets and pharmacies which are allowed to accept up to 100 people depending on the size of the building.

A two-meter distance rule, coupled with a mandate to wear masks when this can not be upheld, only applied to people aged 15 and up before but was extended to everyone except those born in 2015 and after.

Iceland has already tightened measures several times to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in October.

But while the curve was on a downward trajectory 10 days ago, a breakout in the geriatric department of a university hospital building last weekend led to an increase in hospital admissions.

Iceland with its some 365,000 inhabitants has confirmed 4,797 cases of Covid-19 and 13 deaths, including three in the last fortnight. (AFP)