On July 19th, people dine at a restaurant in Reykjavík, Iceland. Sigga Ella / Bloomberg / Getty Images

Iceland is introducing new restrictions in the capital, Reykjavík and nearby areas, while the number of Covid-19 cases has risen sharply across the country, the country’s health ministry has announced.

As of Wednesday, any activity or service that requires close physical contact, including hairdressers and beauty salons, must be closed.

Swimming pools and gyms are also closing, restaurants are required to close by 9:00 p.m., and face masks are now mandatory in stores where the two-meter social distancing rule cannot be followed.

The new rules will apply until October 19, according to the Icelandic Ministry of Health.

On Monday, the Icelandic government introduced a gathering restriction of 20 people and ordered the nationwide closure of fitness centers, bars, nightclubs and gaming facilities by October 19.

Iceland has seen a significant increase in home infections in the past two weeks. 99 new infections were confirmed on Tuesday and 87 on Wednesday. Of particular concern to health officials was the number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 but not in quarantine. According to the Ministry of Health, only 52% of the people who tested positive had already been in quarantine since June 15.

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

Speaking to the press on Monday, police superintendent Víðir Reynisson emphasized the importance of informing the disease tracking team of who they were and where they were for infected people. “There is only one way to do this and that is through solidarity,” he added

There have been a total of 3,172 confirmed cases and 10 deaths in Iceland since the pandemic began. The record for new infections was hit on March 24 with 106 confirmed cases for a total population of 364,134.

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