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Iceland closes bars, gyms again to curb coronavirus spread

FILE PHOTO: People walk past empty shops, with signs showing ‘For Rent’ as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Reykjavik, Iceland, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Iceland has ordered bars, gyms and entertainment venues to close and has sharply cut the number of people allowed to gather in public in order to curb a recent rise in COVID-19 infections.

From Monday a maximum of 20 people will be allowed to gather in public, with some exceptions such as courts, parliament and universities, the health ministry said in a statement issued late on Sunday. The previous upper limit was 200 people.

A social distancing rule of one meter will remain in place, while public swimming pools will operate at half capacity.

Iceland allowed bars and gyms to reopen in late May after combating the spread of the virus, but in the second half of September, like many other countries across Europe, saw an uptick in cases, registering up to 40 daily infections.

Iceland, with a population of around 360,000, has registered 2,980 infections in total, with 10 deaths, since the start of the global pandemic.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Gareth Jones