Iceland to lift all COVID-19 restrictions from Saturday

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A woman cycles down a street painted in rainbow colours near the Hallgrimskirkja church, as the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Reykjavik, Iceland, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley

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COPENHAGEN, June 25 (Reuters) - Icelanders will no longer need to wear masks or keep a safe distance from other people as all COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted on Saturday, the country's health minister said on Friday.

The North Atlantic country has generally combated the COVID-19 outbreak well via a rigorous testing and tracing system, but it has instituted lockdown measures several times in the last year to curb infection spikes.

"We are restoring the society we are used to living in and which we have longed for," Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir said.

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Iceland will likely be the first country in Europe to lift all of its COVID-19 restrictions, Svavarsdóttir said, according to news website Kjarninn.

Restrictions in place until now have included curbs on public gatherings and a distance rule of two metres between people.

The government says 87% of Icelanders have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, which is says is the highest rate recorded among comparable countries.

The country of 360,000 people has an infection incidence of just 1.6 per 100,000 inhabitants on a two-week average. Only 30 people have died out of a total of 6,637 infections.

(Corrects to edit headline)

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Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Editing by Alex Richardson

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