Guðni Th. Jóhannesson Sworn In for Second Term

Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was sworn in for his second term as president of Iceland on Saturday, RÚV reports. The ceremony, which took place at Alþingi, was significantly scaled back in deference to tightened social distancing and gathering ban regulations; only 30 people were in attendance. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic featured prominently within the President’s speech, as did his belief that it is the president’s role to remain outside of the political fray.

The swearing-in ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the political party chairs, and former presidents Vigdís Finnbogadóttir and Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. A song by Icelandic musician Bubbi Morthens was performed by actress and singer Ester Talia Casey, and after taking the presidential oath, the president received a blessing from the Bishop of Iceland, Anna M. Sigurðardóttir. The national anthem was then performed by opera and pop singer Diddú.

“May the troubles ahead not deter us, but bring out our best.”

“The president is only intended to have a role in [the political] arena under exceptional circumstances, primarily in the formation of government and its dissolution, along with the right to refuse the ratification of laws according to one’s conscience or out of consideration for the clear will of a significant portion of the electorate,” Guðni remarked. “But it’s here, in the great Alþingi, that we find the axis point of political power in Iceland.”

Guðni stressed the importance of remaining vigilant in combating the COVID-19 virus. “May this difficult, perilous experience bring us hope, not distress. May the troubles ahead not deter us but bring out our best.”

Entering his second term, Guðni expressed the desire that the nation renew its efforts to “promote the health and well-being of everyone in this country. It’s my hope that we are even more attentive to public health and prevention in health care matters, that we appreciate to an even greater degree that in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of our era that it is urgent that we take mental health seriously, and that we counteract strain and stress, burnout and anxiety.”

Mask Use on Reykjavík Buses Is Not Required

public bus Reykjavík

Passengers on riding capital-area Strætó buses will not have to wear masks on board, RÚV reports. This is a revision of the previous regulation, which had only been in effect since Friday at noon.

There had been considerable confusion about mask-wearing requirements onboard city buses as per the newly tightened regulations, the public was told that they must wear masks when it was not possible to maintain a two-metre distance between themselves and others, on board any scheduled flight, on ferries, and finally, on public transportation where the journey is over half an hour.

Complicating matters, however, is the fact that it isn’t possible to maintain two metres of separation between passengers in a bus, but most Strætó journeys are less than half an hour. Which made it seem like city buses both was and was not subject to the mask-wearing requirement.

Strætó officials have now decided to backtrack and accept the mask-wearing exemption that was originally offered to them by state authorities, but have asked that the government make a clear statement about masks on public transportation on Saturday.

In summation, at time of writing, masks are not required on Strætó buses within the capital area. Masks are required on ferries, aeroplanes, and buses operating outside the capital, as these journeys are necessarily longer than half an hour.