Icelandic Companies Increasingly Optimistic About Coming Months

Financial managers of Icelandic companies are more optimistic about their company’s future than they were last spring, according to a survey conducted by Deloitte and reported on by Viðskiptablaðið. Around a fifth of respondents reported that their company’s revenue is now similar to or higher than before the pandemic began.

The survey is conducted internationally twice a year by Deloitte. The last survey was conducted in March, when many parts of the world were experiencing their first wave of COVID-19. “The situation then was very dark and the results now indicate that the situation is not good. However it is gratifying to see that there is a lot less pessimism than last spring,” stated Lovísa A. Finnbjörnsdóttir, head of Deloitte Iceland’s financial consulting department.

Tourism CFOs Most Pessimistic

CFOs of companies in the commerce, services, and seafood industries were most optimistic while those is tourism were the most pessimistic. “It’s interesting how the difference is huge between industries,” Lovísa stated, though she said it was not surprising that export companies reported more optimism than others. Though some companies in the commerce industry had suffered, it was clear that Icelander’s consumption was easing the blow.

Likely no one is surprised that Icelandic tourism companies report the least optimism about their financial situation in the coming months. Three out of four financial managers of tourism companies said they were pessimistic about the future and that their income stream would not return to previous levels before the third quarter of 2021 at the earliest.

Nine per cent of respondents stated they did not trust themselves to estimate when the economic impact of the pandemic would begin to ease. Four our of five said their main goal in the near future was to streamline operations, while digital solutions were next on the list of priorities. Respondents also expressed more positivity toward the idea of taking loans, particularly as interest rates have lowered.

COVID-19 in Iceland: Authorities Optimistic as Case Numbers Drop

COVID-19 test tubes

Iceland’s third wave of COVID-19 appears to be subsiding, the country’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated at a briefing today. He warned, however, that there is an ongoing risk of group infections that could reverse the numbers’ descent. If the curve continues to trend downwards, Þórólfur stated restrictions could be eased as early as November 18.

Iceland reported 25 new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Only five were not already in quarantine at the time of diagnosis, and that number has not been so low since August 27. Authorities stated that containing this third wave of infection was going well and they felt they had the nation’s support.

Hospital Still Under Strain

The healthcare system is still under heavy strain, though the strain remains fairly steady, Director of Health Alma Möller stated at the briefing. Two cases were diagnosed yesterday among hospital staff that are possibly connected to the group outbreak at the National University Hospital’s Landakot location, though this has not been confirmed. Authorities praised hospital staff, many of whom face difficult conditions at work and have even isolated themselves from their families.

Pregnant Women’s Healthcare Access Vital

The briefing’s special guest today was Hulda Hjartardóttir, Head Doctor of Maternity Services at the National University Hospital. Hulda stated that while pregnant women are not more likely to contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus than others, there is some research that suggests they can experience more severe symptoms than others in their age group. In addition, conditions tied to pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, can be exacerbated by COVID-19. Hulda urged pregnant women to continue to seek out necessary healthcare, and stressed the importance of making sure expectant mothers don’t avoid check-ups due to fear of infection.

In response to reporters’ questions, Hula revealed there had been 50 cases of pregnant women contracting COVID-19 in Iceland since the pandemic began. In some cases, women gave birth while they had an active infection. Such cases have been challenging for everyone involved: the women, their partners, and healthcare staff.

Public Encouraged to “Travel In-House”

Víðir encouraged the public to stay at home over the weekend. He underlined the importance of continued preventative measures such as distancing, hand washing, and use of hand sanitizer. He added that he believed the public had been following the rules well so far. “Let’s keep doing that.”

Stormy Weather Across Iceland Today

weather alert

A yellow weather warning has been issued across much of Iceland starting this afternoon and through early next morning. Gale-force winds are expected in all regions except the Southeast and the Highland. Residents are encouraged to secure outdoor belonging such as garden furniture and trampolines, which could be picked up by strong winds and cause injury or property damage.

A southwest gale is expected in the Westfjords, West Iceland, Southwest Iceland, and across North and East Iceland begin around noon today and lasting until around 3.00am tomorrow morning. Gusts of 18-23 metres per second are expected across the eastern, western and southern regions where the storm will hit, and gusts of up to 25 metres per second are expected in the north and northwest of Iceland.

Wind gusts can be hazardous to lighter vehicles. All travellers are encouraged to monitor weather conditions.

Producing a Softer Version of Icelandic Wool

For some years, the Varma and Ístex knitting and sewing factory has been working on a development project intended to produce a softer version of Icelandic wool. “It’s a known fact that the Icelandic wool stings,” Páll Kr. Pálsson, CEO and owner of Varma, told RÚV. “But I started thinking there’s something more we can do about it and make the Icelandic wool softer and more wearable.”

Read more on Icelandic wool from Iceland Review

Ístex buys wool from farmers, including lamb’s wool. “The farmers keep the lambswool separate, and the washing station verifies it – and this project uses more lambswool to increase the softness of the thread,” says Ístex quality- and development manager Sunna Jökulsdóttir. Lambswool is the first fleece sheared off sheep in the autumn and is softer than the wool of older sheep.

The production process was also rethought entirely, from the way the farmers shear the wool to how it’s processed within Varma, to produce an even softer thread. Páll says the wool yarn they’re now making is competitive with some types of foreign merino wool. He won’t say it rivals the very finest foreign merino, but Varma will be eliminating imported wool in many of their products in favour of they’re new lambswool yarn. He adds, however, that when they get down to it, the most important thing is what designers choose to do with the wool they produce, that’s where the opportunities lie.

Read more on Icelandic wool production and design from Iceland Review