There are no plans to cancel this year’s Þjóðhátíð, a festival held annually on Merchant’s Weekend on Heimey Island in the Westman Islands, RÚV reports.
In spite of a recent uptick in positive COVID-19 cases around Iceland and tightening measures to prevent a more serious outbreak, authorities have yet to impose any gathering bans that would prevent organizers from holding the festival, which is one of the biggest multi-day events in Iceland. In past years, it’s drawn as many as 16,000 attendees—nearly four times the population of Heimey.
“We are determined to put on this Þjóðhátíð,” said chair of the festival committee Hörður Orri Grettisson. “From here out, just as up until now, this all depends on us. We have to take precautions with personal infection control, sanitize often, and do it well. This is how we’re going to prevent ourselves from getting infected.”
Hörður says that ticket sales and planning, which have been underway since the start of the year, have been successful thus far. Organizers are assessing the situation on a day-by-day basis in meetings with Westman Island police and civil defense authorities, he continued.
But if the festival had to be cancelled for the second year in a row, it would have serious economic consequences for Westman residents and businesses, Hörður said. “It would, naturally, be a devastating blow, particularly for ÍBV [the Westman Islands football club]. This is by far their biggest fundraiser. All their work with children and teens depends on this festival going well.”
The financial consequences would also extend to companies based in other places around Iceland, Hörður continued. (Indeed, among other things, the weekend necessitates an uptick in both ferry crossings to the Westmans and short flights booked with tour companies to the island.) “Tourism, restaurants, etc—many of them live or die with this weekend. People have probably booked in for the weekend and such. So [cancelling] would just be a devastating blow.”