Iceland lifts all restrictions with 90% of population vaccinated
With COVID-19 being a part of our lives for quite some time now, it is always exciting news when nations are able to fully lift any of the restrictions enforced due to the pandemic. With this in mind, the Scandinavian country of Iceland, has just abolished all temporary regulations relating to the coronavirus. With the country now 90%-vaccinated, government officials have allowed for all mass gatherings to take place, and there is no longer any requirements relating to mask wearing and socially distancing.
Having a population of less than 400,000 has had a positive impact when having to deal with the spread of the virus, with some 87% of adults in the country having received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, whilst another 60% are fully vaccinated. Announced at midnight on Friday 25/Saturday 26 June, all Icelanders can finally feel that normality is back, with health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir stating;
“We are regaining the kind of society which we feel normal living in, and we have longed for ever since [emergency legislation] was activated because of the pandemic more than a year ago, on 16 March 2020.”
As the “government plans for the vaccination program and the lifting of restrictions on gatherings have therefore been completed,’ the Icelandic government has also ensured that any decisions made have been in line with recommendations of the country’s chief epidemiologist. Moreover, the head of civil protection, Víðir Reynisson, has made clear that even though “small clusters of infection may [(re)appear in future], he is “confident that our contact-tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks.”
Further showcasing the nations ability of handling the pandemic in the best possible manner, it has become evident that all measures taken from start to finish have heavily benefited the country, and in turn have led to a smooth transition back to normality. With a thorough analysis of the current situation regarding COVID-19 in Iceland, chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason has provided the following insight;
“The contact tracing and quarantine efforts here in Iceland seem to have contained its transmission to a similar level as the original variant, with slightly more than 5% of quarantined individuals turning out to have been infected, regardless of which sub-type of the virus we have been dealing with.”
With travelers now also exempt from border testing with the condition of showcasing proof regarding vaccination, the festivals that are yet to postpone can once again welcome a large number of international tourists. In this list falls Iceland Airwaves, with Secret Solstice having already postponed to 2022. Taking place from the 3rd till the 6th of November, 2021, Airwaves will feature performances by the likes of Arlo Parks, Metronomy, Black Pumas, Sad Night Dynamite, Bartees Strange, Sin Fang, Vök, as well as Daughters of Reykjavik and Mammút.
In addition, Iceland Airwaves has looked at further enhancing their brand, as they have teamed up with Japanese ticketing technology firm Zaiko. With the concept of a digital festival offering, Iceland Airwaves Japan will be launching 15 on-demand live performances for all Japanese fans to have access too. In turn, content will also be streamed throughout the year, allowing fans to either go to the festival in person or online. Such initiatives can be beneficial for festivals in small countries, with the founder and CEO of Zaiko, Malek Nasser stating;
“As someone who has enjoyed music festivals for over ten years, not to mention worked for many of Japan’s best festivals, I am excited to come together with Iceland Airwaves to bring the festival format into the digital event world. I believe this collaboration will become a model for the entire industry on how festivals can connect with fans year-round.”
The swift return of festivals, as well as the lifting of restrictions is a step in the right direction for any country able to follow suit, and in turn we could not be any more excited for a return back to ‘normality’, at as many countries as possible, with of course all requirements taken into consideration.
Image Credit: Secret Solstice Festival via Neon-Photography.com