Italy records largest daily increase in coronavirus cases in more than five months

People dine at a restaurant in Reykjavík, Iceland, on July 19.
People dine at a restaurant in Reykjavík, Iceland, on July 19. Sigga Ella/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Iceland is introducing new restrictions in the capital Reykjavík and nearby areas amid a surge in Covid-19 cases across the country, the country’s Ministry of Health has announced.

From Wednesday, any activities or services that requires close physical contact, including hair dressers and beauty parlors, are required to close.

Swimming pools and gyms are also being closed, restaurants will be required to close by 9 p.m., and face masks will now be compulsory in shops where the two-meter social distancing rule cannot be observed.

The new rules will be in effect until October 19, the Icelandic Ministry of Health says.

On Monday, the Icelandic government introduced a 20-person gathering restriction and ordered the closure of fitness centers, bars, night-clubs and gaming establishments nationwide until October 19.

Iceland has seen a significant jump in domestic infections in the past two weeks, with 99 new infections confirmed on Tuesday and 87 confirmed on Wednesday. Of particular concern for the health authorities has been the number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 but not in quarantine. Since June 15, only 52% of those who tested positive were already in quarantine, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

There are currently 18 people hospitalized and 4 in intensive care due to Covid-19.

Speaking to the press on Monday, Chief Police Superintendent Víðir Reynisson stressed how important it is for people who become infected to inform the disease tracing team who they’ve been around and where they’ve been. “There is only one way to approach this and that’s through solidarity,” he added

Iceland has had a total of 3,172 confirmed cases and 10 deaths since the pandemic began. The record for new infections was reached on March 24 with 106 confirmed cases for a total population of 364,134.