Suspected Quarantine Breakers Have Left the Country

Since Sunday, the police have sought a group of four suspected of breaking quarantine regulations on arrival in Iceland, RÚV reports. The people left the country yesterday. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason will turn in new suggestions for border regulations in the next few days, with the goal of making sure infections don’t cross the border.

One American and three Europeans sat at a restaurant in the Reykjavík city centre last Sunday. The restaurant’s employee heard them discussing that they weren’t following quarantine regulations and notified the police. Deputy chief superintendent Jóhann Karl Þórisson stated that the men had left when the police arrived but that the contact tracing team gave police information on their presumed residence.

Police officers visited the men’s residence, but they weren’t there. It was later discovered that the men were working for a company, and were sent away from Iceland once management discovered their behaviour during the time they should have been in quarantine.

“This is serious. We have these rules and we mean for people to follow them. We’re really trusting people to do so. If people are deliberately breaking the rules, the police have to interfere,” Jóhann Karl told RÚV.

Iceland currently has low domestic infection rates and medical authorities are working on relaxing restrictions. In order for people in Iceland to be able to relax, border restrictions must be respected. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason is currently working on suggestions for the Minister of Health on how to possibly secure the border further. In an information briefing this week, Þórólfur discussed the possibilities they were considering. “We can enforce certain procedures more rigidly and verify information provided to us by travellers, such as phone numbers and addresses of quarantine residences. We can also request negative PCR tests at points of departure as many other European countries are doing. Finally, if we doubt people intend to respect quarantine regulations, we can mandate that they spend quarantine in the government’s quarantine hotels.”

COVID-19 In Iceland: Emergency Response Level Lowered

Director of the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, Víðir Reynisson

After consulting with the Chief Epidemiologist, the National Police Commissioner has decided to lower Iceland’s emergency response level from Emergency/Distress, to Alert. The country has been in a state of Emergency/Distress since October 4, at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic’s third wave.

The change will not affect the infection prevention regulations in place, and will in fact, not affect the public in any direct way.

A notice from the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Response states that the preparation process that began when the emergency response level was raised is now over but the Chief Epidemiologist and a pandemic management team will continue to monitor the situation and make decisions based on how the pandemic progresses.

The emergency level was first raised due to the pandemic on March 6, 2020. Since then, we have had 6,033 confirmed cases of the virus, 46,005 calls for quarantine and 488,851 Covid-19 tests have been performed either domestically or at the border. 29 people have died of COVID-19.

For the past few days and weeks, infection rates have been low. Yesterday, four people tested positive for the virus but all were in quarantine. 19 people are currently in quarantine after having possibly been exposed to the virus but 718 people are in quarantine waiting for their routine second test after arriving at the border.

Have Icelandic schools remained open since August 2020?

school children

Icelandic schools for those 16 and under have remained open since August. Junior colleges (for students 16-20) and universities did hold classes online in the fall during Iceland’s third wave of infection but are holding in-person classes for the most part now.

Some restrictions are in place that limit class sizes or enforce mask use in schools for older children but for the most part, elementary and middle schools have been free of restrictions. Iceland’s government has prioritised keeping schools (particularly primary schools) open through the pandemic, often relaxing restrictions in schools before other parts of society.

French Courts Confirm Breast Implant Damages For 203 Icelandic Women

Judge's gavel

An appellate court in France has confirmed an earlier ruling that German safety and qualification standard consulting company TUV Rheinland owes damages to 203 Icelandic women who received PIP breast implants in 2000-2010, RÚV reports. The women’s lawyer called this an important incremental victory but expects the case will be brought before France’s supreme court. Further lawsuits will likely follow.

More than 400 Icelandic women were implanted with PIP implants in the years between 2000 and 2010. The implants were later found to be not only leaky but also filled with industrial silicone instead of a medical-grade substance. The PIP case made headlines around the world in 2011. Around 9,000 women are involved in lawsuits over the PIP implants in two different lawsuits.

Icelandic authorities offered all Icelandic women an ultrasound scanning to evaluate the implant conditions and most women had them removed. More than half of the women sued the implant producer for damages. Yesterday, French courts confirmed that the German company TUV Rheinland owed 203 women damages.

Saga Ýrr Jónsdóttir is the women’s lawyer. She called it an important victory but expects that the case will be appealed to France’s Supreme Court. She expects TUV Rheinland will appeal the verdict but as the verdict is 1,200 pages long, they likely haven’t had time yet to go over it.


Cryptocurrency Not Supervised By Financial Supervisory Authority

Central Bank of Iceland

The Central Bank of Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority has no supervision over cryptocurrency mined in Iceland, Fréttablaðið reports. A considerable portion of the world’s supply of bitcoin, or up to 8%, is mined in data centres in Iceland.

The Financial Supervisory Authority has no information on and does not supervise cryptocurrency mined in Icelandic data centres. It’s believed that up to 8% of bitcoin is mined in Iceland. Around 60 companies mine bitcoin in Iceland but only the three service providers offering electronic currency trade and digital wallets are required to register with the Financial Supervisory Authority.

While cryptocurrency has been lauded as an ultra-secure decentralised mode of payment, it has come under fire for being ill-regulated and wasteful of energy. US authorities have increasingly tried to supervise the use of cryptocurrency as they are thought to be the cornerstone of various illegal operations, including terrorism, drug trade and the distribution of child pornography. Mining cryptocurrency requires a great deal of energy use. Around 5% of Iceland’s energy production is tied in data centres and around 90% of data centre operations centre on cryptocurrency mining.

When asked about cryptocurrency supervision, The Central Bank of Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority replied that as cryptocurrencies aren’t legal tender or currency in Iceland so they aren’t subject to legislation on payment services or electronic currency. “Cryptocurrency markets don’t require a licence, they are not subject to laws no. 108/2007 on stock exchanges and aren’t subject to Central Bank of Iceland’s Financial Supervisory Authority’s supervision.” Furthermore, the Central Bank does not have any information on the extent of cryptocurrency trade. Even if the Financial Supervisory Authority does not supervise cryptocurrency trade, they warn against its use.

Read more on bitcoin mining in Iceland.