When Social distancing measures were put in place in Iceland on March 16 Harpa Conference Center in Reykjavík had to close down temporarily. Before the outbreak, 2020 was on track to be a record year for Harpa in international events. “It was confusing and difficult for us as everyone in the event industry to see things unfold when borders started closing down,” says Svanhildur Konradsdottir, Director at Harpa. “But we certainly appreciate that most of our clients chose to postpone their events rather than canceling them. That inspired us to start right away to plan for the post-COVID-19 era.”
There has been a steady decline in COVID-19 infection in Iceland sins April 5. At this point, there are only a handful of active cases in the country. May 4 marked the start of substantial easing of the social distancing measures and, on May 7 Harpa reopened, becoming one of the first conference halls in Europe to do so during the pandemic. Last week it was announced that from June 15, the 14 day quarantine will not be mandatory for passengers arriving at Keflavík International Airport. Instead, tourists and Icelandic residents entering the country will be given the option of being screened for the novel coronavirus.
“We have been working closely with the Icelandic health authorities enabling International conference guests to be safely brought together this summer. The well-being of our guests, organizers, and staff is of the highest priority, and we follow strict guidelines on personal hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, sanitation, and social distancing between people. We have implemented processes on how to divide different groups of guests. For more frequent cleaning of the whole building with particular attention to frequently touched objects and surfaces. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are available of all guests. Microphones, pointers, keyboards are disinfected between speakers.” Says Konradsdottir.