Randomised Vaccinations to Begin as Early as Next Week

COVID-19 vaccine vaccination Iceland

Randomised vaccinations could begin after the weekend, RÚV reports. The authorities hope to vaccinate all individuals born before 1976 and everyone with underlying conditions by the end of next week.

14,000 doses next week

An estimated 14,000 vaccine doses will be administered in the Greater Reykjavík Area next week: Pfizer on Tuesday, Modern on Wednesday, and Jansen on Thursday. The authorities also expect the arrival of an additional 20,000 vaccine doses in two weeks time, with any leftover doses being earmarked for randomised vaccination, which could begin as early as next week.

Pulled from “a hat or a mug”

In an interview with RÚV, Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, Director of Nursing at the Capital Area Healthcare Centres, stated that unvaccinated individuals will be grouped based on their year of birth: “We’re going to put all these individuals together on the basis of birth year, and then we’re going to pull them out of a hat, or a mug, with either women or men from the given year of birth being selected.”

When asked if this means that being selected would be a bit like winning the lotto, Ragnheiður replied in the affirmative: “Yes, you could say so. It’s this kind of vaccination lottery. Being born in 1975 or later will be the criteria for entry, I expect.”

75% by the end of June

As of late May, over 44% of Iceland’s population had received one or both doses of the vaccine while over 21% had been fully vaccinated. Health authorities have stated that they are on track to vaccinate 75% of the population (280,000 people) with at least one dose by the end of June.

30,000 New Apartments Needed to Meet Demand

apartments downtown Reykjavík housing

An estimated 30,000 new apartments are needed in Iceland over the next decade to meet expected demand. Despite a record number of apartments having been constructed last year, the demand has only increased, according to the Housing and Construction Authority.

500 more apartments than originally estimated

At the beginning of 2021, the Housing and Construction Authority published a report on housing demand in Iceland. The original report estimated that 3,950 apartments would need to be constructed by the end of the year to maintain stability in the housing market. With the population growing at a quicker rate than previously expected, however, the Authority has updated its report, revising its estimate to 4,450 apartments.

In an interview with Vísir, Karlotta Halldórsdóttir – an economics specialist with the Housing and Construction Authority – stated that the demand for housing in Iceland was relatively high. “We are constructing approximately 3,000 apartments annually, which is quite good. However, its speaks to a considerable shortage, the fact that approximately 4,500 apartments are needed this year to meet demand.” Karlotta added that this shortage did not mean homelessness but rather that young adults would be living at home with their parents for longer, or that more individuals would be residing in non-residential buildings or unauthorised housing.

A shortage of plots

According to Karlotta, contractors have complained of a shortage of building sites, which municipalities must provide. “A shortage of plots is inhibitory to the construction of apartments. It appears as if contractors are capable of building more but that the paucity of land makes it difficult.”

A record number of new apartments were constructed last year, approximately 3,800. “In reality, it’s not the pace of construction; it’s just that there is great demand these days,” Karlotta remarked. Despite this increased demand, Karlotta encouraged buyers to remain patient.

“I think it’s important for buyers not to rush. More apartments will become available. We’re seeing a rise in prices, which most likely originates with a lack of supply, but buyers should take their time, as opposed to rushing to buy.”

Increased demand for larger homes

Earlier this month, RÚV reported that Landsbankinn’s Department of Economics had predicted a 10.5% increase in real-estate prices in 2021 compared to last year. Þorsteinn Arnalds, Director of the Housing and Construction Authority, stated that this increase was to be attributed to lower interest rates. Þorsteinn added that the pandemic has seen increased demand for larger, single-family homes.

“It’s clear that single-family homes, especially larger homes, have seen a rise in prices. Maybe this owes to the increased need for better and roomier housing following social restrictions. I don’t expect this trend to change in the capital area, as we don’t expect the supply of single-family homes to increase in the immediate future; it’s mainly apartment buildings that are being constructed.

Blue Lagoon Re-Opens, 112 New Employees Added

blue lagoon Iceland

As of today, Friday, March 28, the Blue Lagoon has re-opened all of its facilities. The company has hired a total of 112 new employees over the past weeks and intends on hiring more staff this summer, Víkurfréttir reports.

All facilities re-opened

The Blue Lagoon – one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations – has been almost entirely closed for business since October 8 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced limited opening hours in April and May, but as of Friday, March 28, all of the lagoon’s facilities will re-open. These facilities include the lagoon itself, the Retreat Spa, the Blue Lagoon’s four restaurants and two hotels, along with the company’s skincare shop and research and development centre.

According to Víkurfréttir, the Blue Lagoon has recently hired 112 new employees and plans on adding more people to its staff over the summer months. Grímur Sæmundsen, CEO of the Blue Lagoon, has expressed optimism for the summer: “Following an unprecedented winter, it is now more important than ever to take good care of one’s body and soul and to enjoy a pleasant summer.”

One-third now fully vaccinated

The government has now fully vaccinated a third of its target population, with two-thirds of Icelanders having received both doses of the vaccine. In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason stated that very few vaccinated individuals have been subsequently infected with COVID-19. “Those who have been infected have either just recently received their first or second jab; no one has fell seriously ill.”

The health authorities plan on vaccinating approximately 14,000 people next week with vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Jansen.

According to government regulations, fully vaccinated travelers need to take a PCR test upon arrival at the international airport. They are then required to self-isolate until they receive their test results (within a 24-hour period). These guidelines are currently in effect until June 15, 2021.