We’re increasingly seeing countries learn to live with coronavirus, recognizing that the situation we’re in now is likely the new normal. Iceland is the latest country to lift all coronavirus related restrictions, including for travel. But Iceland is taking it a step further than other countries.
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Iceland lifts all COVID-19 restrictions on Friday
Iceland’s Minister of Health has announced that the country will be lifting all COVID-19 pandemic restrictions as of Friday, February 25, 2022. This includes both restrictions within the country and at the border, meaning that it’ll be just like pre-coronavirus in terms of rules and restrictions.
All rules regarding limitations on social gatherings and school operations, as well as quarantine requirements for those infected by COVID-19, are being removed. Additionally, no disease prevention measures will be in place at the border, regardless of vaccination status.
As the Minister of Health describes this:
“We can truly rejoice at this turning-point, but nonetheless I encourage people to be careful, practice personal infection prevention measures and not to interact with others if they notice symptoms.”
This decision is based on a recommendation from the country’s Chief Epidemiologist, who explains that there have been between 2,100 and 2,800 infections diagnosed daily, but serious illness has not increased proportionally.
Iceland has a population of around 368,000 people. 110,000 people are confirmed to have already tested positive for coronavirus, and based on antibody testing it’s estimated that another 110,000 people have been infected without being diagnosed.
Iceland encourages people to get infected
Nope, this isn’t clickbait. As Iceland’s government explains in a statement, the way to get widespread resistance to COVID-19 is through having as many people as possible be infected with the virus, since vaccines aren’t enough:
“Widespread societal resistance to COVID-19 is the main route out of the epidemic. To achieve this, as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines are not enough, even though they provide good protection against serious illness.”
I don’t think they’re literally suggesting having someone you know with COVID-19 cough all over you. However, the country’s position is basically that you should live your life and get infected, because that gets us out of this mess. Of course presumably those most vulnerable should avoid getting infected, given the risk of serious illness.
I think it’s important to recognize that Iceland’s government has been highly respected during the pandemic in terms of managing the virus. Throughout the pandemic the country has taken a responsible, science-based approach toward reopening borders.
And while the concept of the government saying “as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines aren’t enough” might sound strange, I’m also not really in a position to judge that.
I will say that in general I’m thrilled to see more countries lifting restrictions. Is coronavirus serious? Of course. But it’s also here to stay, and I think we’ve learned in the past two years that the virus isn’t going anywhere.
Iceland is not only lifting all travel restrictions as of Friday, but the country is also saying that “as many people as possible need to be infected with the virus as the vaccines aren’t enough.” We’ve seen quite a few countries lift coronavirus-related restrictions, but Iceland is taking it a step further with its statement about getting infected.
What do you make of Iceland’s approach to lifting all restrictions?