Sigríður Björk Named National Police Commissioner

Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has named Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir the National Police Commissioner of Iceland, effective March 16, Kjarninn reports. Sigríður has been Chief of Police in the capital area since 2014 and is the first woman to serve in that office.

The Office of the National Commissioner of Police began operations in 1997. Haraldur Johannessen held the office of National Police Commissioner for 22 years, until stepping down last year after rising tensions in the police force led to eight out of nine police commissioners in the country declared a vote of no confidence in Haraldur’s leadership. Kjartan Þorkelsson, Chief of Police of South Iceland, temporarily replaced Haraldur while the Minister of Justice began seeking applications for a permanent replacement in the position.

Prior to assuming the position of police chief in the capital, Sigríður was chief of the Suðurnes Police in South Iceland and acted as assistant police commissioner from 2007 to 2008. She’s also worked in other regions of the country: she was sheriff of Ísafjörður from 2002 to 2006 and chief tax inspector in the Westfjords from 1996 to 2002.

Negotiations Postponed in Workers’ Strikes

Efling chairperson Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir.

A negotiation meeting between the Efling labour union and municipal leaders in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, Mosfellsbær, Hveragerði, and Ölfus was postponed on Thursday, RÚV reports. The postponement came at the request of municipal negotiations committee chair Inga Rún Ólafsdóttir, who said the committee needed more time to do their homework in advance of the meeting.

See Also: Strikes Outside of Reykjavík Anticipated for Monday

Over 270 Efling workers in the abovementioned municipalities went on strike on Monday, overlapping with a three-week strike of Efling city employees in Reykjavík. While Reykjavík-based municipal employees reached an agreement with the City of Reykjavík on Tuesday, however, negotiations are still underway with workers outside of the capital. The strike has impacted schools in all of the striking municipalities, as well as services in government offices such as the Directorate of Immigration, which is located in Kópavogur.

See Also: Workers’ Strikes Update: One Avoided, One Begins, One Continues

According to the state mediator’s website, the next meeting between Efling and municipal leaders is scheduled for this coming Monday. “We’re waiting and stress that a meeting should be held as soon as possible,” said Efling chair Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir. “In our opinion, it’s unacceptable to go into the weekend without meeting.” Efling negotiators said they understood that people need more time to consider the terms and issues on the table, but is nevertheless pushing for talks to continue on Friday.

Iceland Bans Gatherings Over 100 Due to COVID-19

COVID-19 Iceland

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, Icelandic authorities have banned gatherings of over 100 people as of 12.00am this coming Monday, March 16 for a period of four weeks. All universities and junior colleges (menntaskólar) will close during this period. This is the first such ban to be enacted in Iceland’s history.

The Prime Minister, Chief Epidemiologist, and Ministers of Education and Health announced the new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Iceland at a press conference held at 11.00am this morning.

Primary schools and preschools remain open

Gatherings over 100 people will be banned for four weeks beginning on Monday, March 16, and universities and junior colleges will be closed across the country, though courses will continue being taught online. Primary schools and preschools in the country will remain open, but will be subject to stricter measures, including limiting class sizes and maintaining space between students.

Workplaces enforce rules themselves

Venues and organisations hosting events for groups smaller than 100 individuals are also subject to stricter guidelines, primarily ensuring that there are two metres of space between attendees. Workplaces and institutions are charged with applying and enforcing the regulation themselves.

The ban does not apply to Keflavík International Airport or international ports or vessels.

Information from Directorate of Health

Individuals located in Iceland are asked to report symptoms (cough, fever, and muscle aches) to 1700 (+354 544-4113 for foreign numbers) and review travel history.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 in Iceland, visit the Directorate of Health website.

This article will be updated as more details on the gathering ban are released.

Icelandair Allowed to Continue Flights to Select US Airports

icelandair757

Icelandair will be allowed to continue flights to and from select US airports despit the newly instated travel restrictions that will go into effect on Friday at midnight, RÚV reports. Iceland is one of 26 countries affected by US President Donald Trump’s recent presidential proclamation, which will suspend entry to the US to all foreign nationals who have been within Europe’s Schengen Area in the last 14 days. The ban is currently set to last for 30 days.

Icelandair issued a statement saying that all flights to the US on Thursday and Friday would proceed as scheduled. Once the ban goes into effect, however, only flights to and from four destinations will be allowed: New York (JFK and Newark), Chicago, Seattle, and Washington DC. The ban will still prevent foreign nationals who have been within Schengen from travelling to these airports.

As of Thursday afternoon, the company had yet to issue a full statement on schedule disruptions, but it has acknowledged that the travel ban will have a significant impact on its flight plan. Icelandair previously cancelled 80 flights and anticipates that it will further need to reduce its offerings in March and April. There are currently 490 flights to the US scheduled during that period.

All flights to Boston, Minneapolis, Denver, and Orlando scheduled between March 14 and 16 have been cancelled. However, flights from Orlando and Denver on March 14 will go ahead as scheduled.

All changes to the Icelandair flight plan will be posted on their website as they become available.