Children Over 35% of Those Currently Quarantined in Iceland

Borgarfjörður eystri

Over one third of those currently in quarantine in Iceland are under 18, RÚV reports. Over 500 children are in quarantine in the country due to possible SARS-CoV-2 exposure while 49 are in isolation due to an active COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 infections among staff or students have led to disruptions in programming in five primary schools in the capital area and led to one school closure since the academic year began in late August.

“We are concerned about the number of young people and especially primary school children who are now quarantined,” stated Chief Superintendent and Director of Iceland’s Civil Protection Department Víðir Reynisson. “We know it’s not easy to be in quarantine, I’ve tried it myself. But we also know they are doing a good job and are following instructions.”

Víðir encouraged children who were at home to use their time to read. “I challenge you to set the goal of reading one book in quarantine that is not related to school. It doesn’t mater if you’re read it before, just choose a good book and read it.”

Teenagers Account for Most Infections Among Children

Most of the children with active COVID-19 infections in Iceland are in their teens. There are currently 22 children between 13-17 who are in isolation due to infection, while there are 16 between the ages of 6-12 and 11 children aged five or younger. Children that are put into quarantine must have an adult in quarantine with them. In such situations, parents or guardians have the right to financial support through the Directorate of Labour, while parents who are caring for children with active infections are required to use their mandated sick days.

Authorities Held Briefing For Children

Víðir and Iceland’s Director of Health Alma Möller, who have both regularly held COVID-19 briefings since Iceland’s first COVID-19 case last winter, held a special briefing for children giving them an opportunity to ask questions about the pandemic.

Icelandair Lays Off 88

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Icelandair laid of 88 employees yesterday, and the dismissals take effect tomorrow, October 1, RÚV reports. Most of the staff, or 68, are pilots. Over 180 have lost their jobs due to group layoffs this month. The Directorate of Labour’s preliminary figures show unemployment was as high as 10% in September.

As of tomorrow, Icelandair will have just 71 pilots on its roster. The layoffs came as a surprise to pilots, stated chairman of the Icelandic Airline Pilots Association Jón Þór Þorvaldsson. The company had just raised funding in a successful public stock offering, in which many of them participated. Jón pointed out that Icelandair will need to train pilots to fly the new Boeing MAX planes that it is expected to receive in the coming months. In his opinion, it would have been more constructive to use the coming period for training.

Unnur Sverrisdóttir of the Directorate of Labour stated six different companies resorted to group layoffs this month. “Five announcements came from the tourism industry. In total 155 who lost their jobs there. And then there is one group layoff in the construction industry.” All of the companies are based in the capital area or on the nearby Suðurnes peninsula, where Keflavík airport is located.

Eimskip Responds to Ship Disposal Scandal

Eimskip goðafoss laxafoss

Shipping company Eimskip has issued a statement in response to an investigation that revealed their former ships were sent to a scrapyard in India where environmental and human rights violations are rampant. In the document, the company states its belief that it “complied with laws and regulations” regarding the sale of the ships, and pointed to their buyer as responsible for the decision to recycle them outside of Europe.

Investigation Alleges Eimskip Circumvented European Law

Icelandic news program Kveikur recently investigated how Eimskip had divested itself of two old container vessels. The investigation revealed that the company had sold the ships to a notorious middleman known for sending such vessels to shipbreaking yards in Southeast Asia. At least 137 people have died breaking down old ships in the coastal town of Alang, where Eimskip’s two vessels ended up. Kveikur’s investigative journalists allege that Eimskip’s sale of the ships was carried out in full knowledge of where they would end up and constitutes a circumventing of European law.

Read More: Circumvented European Law to Dispose of Ships in India

Eimskip Says Buyer is Responsible

In the statement, Eimskip denies it sold the ships with the knowledge they would end up as scrap in India, and the “sale of the vessels was not an action by the Company to profit from higher recycling prices in other parts of the world.”

“Although the company believes that it complied with laws and regulations in the sale process, it is clear that the Company could have made greater requirements towards the buyer in light of the age of the vessels,” Eimskip’s statement reads. “That could be done by including a provision in the sales contract that if the vessels should be recycled, it would be done in a recycling yard that complies with European standards. Eimskip apologizes for not doing so.”

The statement adds that Eimskip’s board and executive management hope to “learn from the incident,” and that the company will review its processes to “develop a clearer policy” in the divestment of its vessels.

The full statement is available in English.

Eight Percent of Icelanders Would Vote for Trump

Just under eight per cent of Icelanders who responded to a recent survey stated they would vote for Trump in the upcoming US election if they could cast a ballot, Fréttablaðið reports. Nearly 82% stated they would vote for Biden. Eight per cent did not know who they would vote for and just under 3% chose not to answer the question. The survey was conducted by Zenter for Fréttablaðið newspaper, and its results are in line with other European countries, according to one Icelandic political scientist.

“Icelanders have always supported the Democrats over the Republicans, as Europeans [have] in general,” stated Eiríkur Bergmann, professor of political science at Bifröst University. He adds, however, that Europeans’ distrust of Trump is greater than has ever been the case for any Republican president. “We need to look back to the situation around George W. Bush during the invasion of Iraq to find something close to this. But Bush was still more popular than Trump.”

More Icelandic Men than Women Support Trump

The survey results showed a significant gender difference: 14% of male respondents said they would vote for Trump while only 4% of female respondents stated they would. Support for Trump increased with age, with the exception of the very youngest age group (18-24). Trump enjoyed the most support from Icelanders aged 65 and older, though still just 15% of that age group stated they would vote for him if they could vote in the US election in November.

Centre Party Supporters Most Likely to Vote Trump

Respondents’ political affiliation in Iceland also showed some correlation with their support of each US candidate. Not a single respondent who supports the Social-Democratic Alliance, nor a single supporter of the Progressive Party stated they would vote for Trump. Those who supported the Centre Party were most likely to say they would vote for the sitting US president, though they were still in the minority within their party. While 55% of the Centre Party’s supporters stated they would vote for Biden, 45% preferred Trump.

The Centre Party was formed when a group of politicians split from the Progressive Party in 2017. Eíríkur stated the survey “shows there was a real difference between those who left the Progressive Party and joined the Centre Party at the time,” and points to the split being rooted in ideological differences rather than simple party politics.

The survey was sent to 2,500 individuals between September 23 and 28, and had 1,281 respondents (51%).