What do people in Iceland usually wear

Erlingsson Nature Travel: Iceland Travel Specialist

Status: March 19, 2020

The news about the virus is turning over and it is hardly possible to report on the situation here in Iceland in a timely manner. Nevertheless, at this point we would like to give a small overview of the impact the pandemic is having on Icelandic society. The first part is based on personal experience, the second is about the measures that are being taken here in Iceland.

Get used to a new reality

Overall, the mood is calm and society seems to be slowly getting used to the new reality. Here on Skólavörðurstígur in the middle of the city center you can hear the last suitcases rolling. Yesterday there was a city tour - a rare event at the moment. There was no one at Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík's landmark, this morning. The city seems a bit deserted. Usually car doors open and close, you can hear laughter in the street or music, but it seems like the noise disappears a little more every day. Last weekend there were still a lot of visitors to Gullfoss and Geysir, the most popular sights in Südland - now the Strokkur Geyser has a little privacy.

Icelandic home quarantine

The grammar schools and universities are completely closed, which is why it is not difficult to find a parking space in the city center for once. Many residents, currently more than 4,000 across Iceland are in quarantine, mostly at home. In the recreation areas, which are mostly the valleys in the middle of the spacious capital, you will find parents with smaller children, whose heads have probably fallen on their heads at home. The Icelandic government is particularly encouraging to keep fit and to go for walks to keep the immune system intact. This also includes adequate sleep and a healthy diet. In the news you can see examples of families making the most of their home quarantine: playing the piano, baking, doing gymnastics in the living room, taking care of the children. Of course, things are not so idyllic everywhere: many have to work, while the children also want attention at home.

Caution & respect in everyday life

The families or residential units mostly stay among themselves. Fewer and fewer people let older people look after their grandchildren. Most old people's homes have been banned from visiting for over two weeks. The buses in the capital only open the middle door so that not everyone has to walk past all passengers. You can tell that people are trying to keep their distance on the bus. Some wear masks or hide their faces behind a scarf or wear rubber gloves. Disinfectants can be found at the entrance of every facility. In the supermarkets, too, care is taken to ensure that only a certain number affects the shop. So now there are people at the entrance of bonuses who count everyone who enters and leaves the store. Some supermarkets like Nettó reserve the morning hours shortly after opening for the elderly and other risk groups.

Control over the spread of the virus

To contain the virus, as many Icelanders as possible should be tested; up to now almost 8,000 people have been examined out of a total population of approx. 350,000. Most of the infections can still be traced, which gives you a certain sense of security. The amazing thing is that tourists hardly ever transmit the virus to the Icelandic population. In the beginning it was Icelandic returnees from the Italian ski resorts who got the ball rolling and mingle with the people very differently than a traveler. It is therefore assumed that tourists have hardly any points of contact with Icelanders, which is why tourists are still welcome in the country. Due to the global travel warning for unnecessary, tourist trips being issued, there will be hardly any visitors in the near future. Every day, many Icelanders follow the press conference, in which the latest findings, measures and figures are discussed.

The numbers are at the moment (19.03.):

The latest figures can be found on the following page: https://www.covid.is/data

Smile for a while!

Iceland has specially set up a website for the virus disease with interesting and up-to-date statistics on its spread called COVID.IS. This also provides information about the distribution of the sick in the individual parts of the country, how many are housed in the hospital or in quarantine and how old the sick are on average. There is also information for travelers on the site and tips for everyday life such as Smile for a while 🙂 instead of a handshake.

Smiling is better than a kiss or a cuddle. Information boards on the Laugarvegur. (Photo: A.S.)

Measures against the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland

More than 100 people are not allowed to gather (Source: COVID.is)

A ban on public events applies to gatherings organized for more than 100 people. For smaller events, a minimum distance of two meters between those present and good access to hand washing facilities must be guaranteed. Examples of such gatherings are:

  • Conferences, seminars, sporting events and other similar occasions.
  • Shows and entertainment events such as dances, performances (theater), movie theaters, and private parties.
  • Religious events such as church services, funerals, weddings and confirmations.

In addition, it must be ensured at all other locations that no more than 100 people are in the same room at the same time. This also applies to the various operational processes of workplaces, institutions, clubs, restaurants, cafes, fitness centers, public swimming pools, museums, shops and other public facilities where more than 100 people are present. In smaller places it is important to ensure a minimum distance of two meters between people. These measures also apply to public transport and similar operators.

In gatherings, in all workplaces, and in all other activities where fewer than 100 people are gathered, it is important to ensure that there is an opportunity to keep people at least two meters apart.

Effects on the school system (Source: COVID.is)

There are significant restrictions on schools during the ban. In some cases, students are unable to go into the school building and are instead taught via distance learning. In other cases, there are restrictions on the number of students in the classrooms and the distance between them in the classroom.

Upper secondary schools and universities are closed and operated as distance learning.

Elementary schools will operate as long as they can ensure that no more than 20 students are accommodated in each classroom. Students should get in touch during breaks. Particular attention will be paid to infection control and hygiene in schools. The school buildings are cleaned and disinfected daily.

The kindergartens continue to operate, but must ensure that the groups are small and as separated from one another as possible. Again, infection control and hygiene come first. These restrictions are constantly being reassessed so that they can be reduced or extended if necessary. Initially, the ban will apply for four weeks, starting on Monday March 16 at midnight and ending on Monday April 13 at midnight.

Which places are exempt from the ban on assemblies? (Source: COVID.is)

The ban on public events does not affect international airports and ports, planes or ships. Infection control measures in these locations will be stepped up and operators will take the greatest possible measures to reduce the possibility of infection.

Status: March 19, 2020

(by Anne Steinbrenner)


Further information on the current situation and the number of cases can be found on the official website of the Icelandic authorities: www.government.is/news/article/2020/03/09/response-to-COVID-19-in-Iceland/

You can find guidelines for tourists at: www.covid.is/sub-categories/tourists

How Erlingson Nature Travel deals with the situation: https://naturreisen.is/island-zu-zeiten-von-corona