Subdued Celebrations for Iceland’s National Day Tomorrow

Icelandic National Day celebrations tomorrow will be more subdued than usual in order to adhere to the 300-person gathering limit in place across the country. The City of Reykjavík has encouraged residents to celebrate with their nearest and dearest but those who explore the city might stumble upon pop-up events including brass bands, circus performers, and DJs.

Icelanders celebrate National Day every June 17 – the date in 1944 when the Republic of Iceland was officially established and the country became independent from Danish rule. The date was chosen as it coincides with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson (1811-1879), one of the leaders of Iceland’s independence movement. The day is usually celebrated with large public gatherings and parades, but festivities will be slightly less bombastic tomorrow due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Celebrations will begin at 11:00am with a government ceremony in Austurvöllur square. A concert featuring Icelandic musicians will take place in nearby Hljómskálagarður park between 2.00pm-6.00pm. In Akureyri, North Iceland, programming will begin at 1.00pm in Lystigarðurinn and continue with family-friendly events between 2.00pm and 4.00pm at the City Hall square (Ráðhústorg), followed by evening programming in the town centre until midnight. Most towns or municipalities have published their festival program on their website and Facebook page.

Information about City of Reykjavík programming for National Day is available online in English.

Icelandic Residents Without a Kennitala Offered COVID-19 Vaccination

bólusetning mass vaccination Laugardalshöll

Residents of Iceland who do not have a kennitala (national ID number) but have a system ID have been invited to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Employers who have temporary residents among their staff are asked to compile a list of applicable staff to facilitate the invitation process. Icelandic authorities have stated they expect to offer all residents aged 16 and older their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by June 25, 2021.

Foreign residents without a kennitala living in the Reykjavík capital area can register for vaccination by emailing [email protected]. Those living in other regions are asked to contact their local health clinic. Residents are asked to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Birthdate and year
  • Gender
  • Country of origin
  • Postcode (in order to receive an invitation to the correct health clinic)
  • Email address

The Directorate of Health has specified that tourists are not eligible for vaccination through this initiative.

Companies that employ foreign workers with a service ID number (kerfiskennitala) are asked to provide health authorities with an excel document containing the following information:

  • Service ID number
  • Name
  • Icelandic mobile phone number (to receive the vaccination invitation)
  • Postcode (in order to receive an invitation to the correct health clinic)

The list is to be sent to the business’ local health clinic (employers are asked to contact the clinic for the correct email address). Businesses with employees in more than one postcode are asked to contact the COVID vaccination project manager via the Chief Epidemiologist’s Office or via [email protected].

Read More: All Foreign Residents to Have Access to Vaccine

Iceland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme began on December 29, 2020. While it got off to a slow start, efforts sped up as vaccine rollout accelerated. So far 62.59% of the population have received one or both doses of vaccine and 39.2% are fully vaccinated. Authorities have released a plan for lifting all social restrictions in stages by late June. Current restrictions, including one-metre social distancing and a 300-person limit on gatherings, are in place until June 29.

24,000 Shareholders in Íslandsbanki Following Successful Stock Offering

Íslandsbanki bank’s shareholders now number around 24,000 following a share offering that ended yesterday, more than any other company listed on Nasdaq Iceland. The bank remains 65% in state ownership, with 24% now in the hands of domestic investors and 11% held by foreign investors. Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson celebrated the campaign’s success, stating that it reduced state risk and provided funds for upcoming development projects.

“It’s gratifying to see the results of Íslandsbanki’s successful offering,” Bjarni stated. “High demand and participation from the public is particularly gratifying, and Íslandsbanki will have more shareholders than any companies registered on the Icelandic market. This is not least due to the decision to allow subscriptions for as little as ISK 50,000 [$512/€340] and leave individual subscriptions of up to one million krónur [$8,250/€6,800] intact. The sale is profitable for the treasury and will be useful in the development that lies ahead in the coming months. Most importantly, however, we are taking the first step here in reducing the state’s risk in banking and moving closer to a healthier environment as is the case in the Nordic countries and our other neighbouring countries.”

Read More: Sale of State-Owned Banks

One of Iceland’s three largest banks, Íslandsbanki was 100% in state ownership before the share offering. Of the other two, Arion Bank is privately owned and Landsbankinn is 98.2% state-owned. Iceland’s current governing coalition prioritised reducing state ownership of financial institutions in the government agreement made at the beginning of its term.