North Iceland Seniors Cycle in International Competition

senior home

Residents at nursing home Hlíð in Akureyri, North Iceland having been breaking a sweat recently in an international cycling competition called Road Worlds for Seniors. This is the third year that Hlíð takes part in the competition and its residents are currently in second place of 120 homes that are participating.

Physiotherapist Ásta Þorsteinsdóttir manages the project, which she says is very popular among Hlíð residents. “First thing in the morning there’s a queue outside here when we arrive and this is on from eight until four o’clock, just constantly,” she told RÚV reporters. “As it stands, we are in second place of 120 teams with 1,700km (435mi) cycled. Last year we were in fifth place so we are doing a bit better this year.”

Residents take part in the competition on stationary spinning bikes in the home, while a screen provides them with video and audio of point-of-view bike trips through cities around the world.

Jónína Axelsdóttir is one of the residents participating in the competition daily. “It’s just so fun, amazing to participate in this.” Jónína hopes Hlíð takes home the trophy this year, but adds “it would be OK to get second place.”

East Iceland Votes in New “Home Councils” Next Week

East Iceland residents go to the polls next week to vote in the first government of a newly-merged municipality. Residents of Borgarfjarðarhreppur, Fljótsdalshérað, Seyðisfjörður, and Djúpavogshreppur voted last October to merge their municipalities under a single government. Each of the four localities will also elect a so-called “home council,” representing a brand-new form of local government in Iceland.

The new municipality, which is yet to be named, will be the largest in Iceland, at over 11,000 square kilometres (4,250 square miles) and will contain around 5,000 residents. Five parties are running for election to the new government: Austurlistinn, the Progressive Party, the Centre Party, the Independence Party, and the Left-Green Movement. In addition to the municipal council, each of the four localities will also have a three-person home council, which will serve as a link between the municipal government and the locality’s residents. The concept is built on experimental provisions on governance in 2011 legislation concerning local government. This will be the first time the provision is applied.

Read More: Municipal Mergers in Iceland

When they show up to the polls, East Iceland residents will not only be voting on council members but also nominating residents to their own home council. Everyone who holds the right to vote is eligible to sit on a home council, and to nominate someone, voters simply write down their name and address on the ballot. This means that interested parties do not necessarily need to campaign publicly to win a seat on their home council. Those who would like to do so, however, are able to register online.

Two out of three members of each home council will be drawn from the locality, while the third member will be a sitting municipal councillor. Home councils will hold a significant amount of authority within each locality. They will oversee detailed land-use plans, the granting of licenses, nature conservation, and cultural events in their area.

New 7-Day Quarantine Rules Take Effect Today

Blaðamannafundur Covid-19 Corona Flensa Almannavarnir Ríkislögreglustjóri

Quarantine for those who have potentially been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus domestically will be shortened from 14 days to 7 in Iceland. Individuals will take a test on the seventh day and will be released from quarantine if they test negative. Iceland’s number of active domestic cases has been dropping gradually and social restrictions are expected to be loosened from September 27.

Local Cases Numbers Drop as Global Case Numbers Rise

Icleand’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason went over the change to quarantine in a briefing in Reykjavík today. He added that although the number of active COVID-19 cases was dropping in Iceland and loosened restrictions were likely on the horizon, the same was not the case abroad. Yesterday showed a record number of new cases globally. Considering this fact, Þórólfur stated it would be unwise to loosen border restrictions for the time being. All travellers arriving in Iceland from abroad must currently undergo double testing and a five-day quarantine, regardless of nationality or point or origin.

Risk Assessment System in the Works

Chief Superintendent Víðir Reynisson stated that the Civil Protection Department was working on a “warning system” similar to that used for local weather in order to help define risk levels throughout the pandemic. The system, which is to be made public by the end of this week, is meant to help institutions and individuals better evaluate the risk involved in their actions.

Haze from US Forest Fires Could Reach Iceland

sunset

Haze from wildfires raging on the United States’ west coast could reach Iceland on Wednesday or Thursday this week, mbl.is reports. The haze is unlikely to affect air quality in the country, as precipitation in the forecast should minimise its polluting effects.

Forest fires have killed at least 28 people in three states on the west coast of the United States since August. Dozens more are missing, while countless others have lost their homes in California, Oregon, Washington, and other states. Haze from the fires reached the central US on Saturday and will continue to move eastward, possibly reaching Iceland on Wednesday or Thursday, according to Elín Björk Jónsdóttir, a meteorologist at the Icelandic Met Office. If the haze does reach Iceland, it will likely only affect the southern coast and it is likely that wet weather will reduce its polluting effects.

“A low-pressure front is forming by Newfoundland [Eastern Canada], from the air mass that has passed over the central part of the United States, where there is currently haze,” Elín explained. “That low-pressure front will reach here on Wednesday and it is not out of the question that there is haze in it. It carries a bit of precipitation with it, so it’s not certain we will observe the haze as dust, the particles could rather be in the precipitation.”