Recovery From COVID-19 to Grant Exemption from Border Testing and Quarantine

From December 10, travellers from within the EEA who have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 will be exempt from infection prevention protocols on arrival in Iceland. Infection prevention regulations for travellers to Iceland will otherwise remain fundamentally unchanged until February 1 next year, the government decided this morning.

Travellers to Iceland currently have the option to undergo a 14-day quarantine after arrival or be tested for the virus at the airport and again after a five-day quarantine. This has impacted tourism greatly but Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has stated repeatedly that he believes these actions have proven their value, as catching the infections at the border stops further spread of the virus. He has suggested making the testing mandatory but the government has decided that from December 1, testing will be free of charge to encourage people to choose the test instead of the quarantine.

From December 10, travellers who are able to provide official documentation that they have contracted COVID-19 and have made a full recovery will not have to undergo testing at the border or go into quarantine on arrival. Healthcare authorities have stated that people who have already contracted the virus and recovered are not at risk of spreading it further. They are still required to wash their hands frequently as they could possibly carry viral matters even if it’s highly unlikely they contract the virus again.

Selling Homemade Sarah Bernhardt Cookies Online Common But Illegal

Selling homemade Sarah Bernhardt cookies online is illegal if the makers don’t have the necessary permits, a spokesperson for the National Federation of Master Bakers told RÚV. The labour-intensive but delicious cookie is a popular homemade Christmas treat but due to the work that goes into them, an online black market is blossoming.

The Sarah Bernhardt cookie, popularised by Ástríður Guðmundsdóttir in the early eighties, is a crisp almond cookie, topped with a coffee and chocolate flavoured buttercream and dipped in chocolate. Ástríður found the recipe in a Swedish magazine in 1979 but her addition of coffee to the buttercream is the foundation of the cookie’s popularity in Iceland, where they’re affectionately known as Sörur (Sarahs). The cakes were originally created in Denmark in the early 20th century to commemorate a visit from the French actress the cookies are named for. Christmas cookies are a staple for local Christmas preparation, with many homes producing a wide variety of cookies. Ástríður shared the recipe with her colleagues as a teacher in Melaskóli and later published it in Gestgjafinn food magazine. The cookie’s popularity has only grown through the years and these days, several people earn some extra income before Christmas by making the cookies and selling them online.

“The law is clear, this is completely illegal,” Business Manager with The Federation of Icelandic Industries and coordinator with the National Federation of Master Bakers Gunnar Sigurðarson told RÚV. “Unfortunately. You can make Sarahs at home for charity bake sales or fundraisers, we have regulations that allow for that, but as soon as you’re baking for profit, you’re at the same table as others, including professional bakers.” Permits are necessary for the sale of baked goods, and taxes and other fees need to be paid. Public health authorities also need to monitor food production. Gunnar says the rules come from the authorities and the responsibility doesn’t lie with the Federation of Master Bakers.

Ástríður agrees with the bakers’ point of view: “Of course people are taking a risk buying Sarahs from strangers, you don’t know what their home is like.” She added, however, that she prefers the homemade version to the ones available in bakeries.


Twelve-Month Parental Leave Approved

The government has approved a bill on birth and parental leave presented by Minister of Social Affairs Ásmundur Einar Daðason. The most notable change is the extension of parental leave from the current ten months to 12 months for children that are born, adopted or fostered permanently from January 1, 2021.

The main change proposed in the bill is an extension of parental leave from 10-12 months. Each parent will have a right to six months of leave, but parents can transfer one month between them so one parent will be able to take seven months and the other 5. The bill has gone through the government’s consultation gateway, and some changes were made during that process. The most controversial point of the bill, inciting the most comments in the Consultation gateway as well as public discourse, is parents’ equal rights to leave. Previous laws had stipulated four months of leave per parent, and two months they could divide between them according to their preference. While some criticised the bill for reducing flexibility for parents, others have praised it for encouraging men to take equal leave as women.

Before the consultation process, the proposed bill stated that parents forfeit the right to leave if they hadn’t used it before the child reached the age of 18 months, but the revised bill allows parents to take leave until the child is 24 months old, as before. Other stipulations in the bill include the transference of the right to parental leave if one parent can’t use their leave. The reasons including restraining orders, no right to parental leave in Iceland or their country of origin, or if the child’s paternity is disputed.

The bill is the result of the work of a committee the Minister appointed in 2019 to review the 20-years old laws on parental leave. The minister had stated that even though the rules were progressive at the time, it’s high time to review them. “We want Iceland to be a good place to have and raise children, and with this bill, we’re increasing the rights of parents to spend time with their children in the first months of their lives.” Projected costs of parental leave in 2021 will be 19.1 billion ISK, just under double the amount in 2017.