No More One-Metre Distancing Requirement for Seated Events

Harpa concert hall

Iceland’s Health Minister has lifted the requirement of one-metre distancing at seated events, such as concerts and performing arts events. The decision was made in consultation with the Chief Epidemiologist. Event organisers had complained that the rule was unnecessarily cumbersome and stricter than requirements in other types of venues, such as bars and restaurants.

“This is a big and important change,” Health Minister Willum Þór Þórsson stated. “This changes the conditions for holding events as it will be possible to utilise all seats at events as long as there are not more than 500 people per compartment.” As previously, mask use is still required at all seated events.

Performing arts venues are still not permitted to sell alcohol during events. Some event organisers have protested that regulation, as alcohol sales are permitted at bars, clubs, and restaurants.

Katla Calm After Largest Earthquake Since 2017

Katla volcano

Seismic activity under Katla volcano was calm last night, after the area’s largest earthquake since 2017. The earthquake was measured under the northeastern rim of the volcano’s caldera and several small aftershocks followed.

“There’s little news since last night,” Hulda Rósa Helgadóttir, Natural Hazard Expert at the Icelandic Met Office, told RÚV. “There was an earthquake at ten past seven that was of magnitude 4 and several aftershocks followed, the largest being 3.4 at quarter to eight, but since then it’s been fairly calm.” Hulda says no volcanic tremor has been detected at the site. Water measurements from the area also show no indication of volcanic activity.

Read More: A Volcano in the Backyard

Katla has erupted at least 21 times in the past 11 centuries. The last eruption to break through the ice on top of the volcano occurred in 1918. A more recent, though fictional, eruption has happed in Katla, however, in the popular Netflix series of the same name.

Reduction of Capelin Quota May Be Necessary

capelin loðna fishing

New measurements of capelin stocks from the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute (MFRI) suggest that it might be necessary to reduce capelin quotas for the ongoing season by around 100,000 tonnes. This year’s quota was set at 904,200 tonnes and has not been higher in decades. MFRI’s final decision is expected by mid-February.

In October 2021, the MFRI set a capelin catch quota for the 2021-2022 season at 904,000 tonnes following the autumn research expeditions. This quota was sevenfold that of the previous season’s quota, and a dramatic shift from 2019 and 2020, when no capelin catch quota was issued at all. The total landings of the 2020-2021 fishing year amounted to about 128,600 tonnes, among the lowest catches since 1980. Still, its export value amounted to 20 billion ISK [$154,500,000, €133,140,000].

Research vessels Árni Friðriksson and Bjarni Sæmundsson recently completed an expedition to assess the state of capelin stocks. The data collected suggest a total catch quota of 800,000 tonnes, which would be a 11% reduction from the previously issued quota. The recommendation is based on measurements taken off the Northeast, East, and Southeast coasts. Sea ice delayed measurements in the Westfjords region, which are expected to be done next week. A final quota recommendation will be issued after that expedition is complete.

Capelin fishing has gone well this season, with two ships breaking records for the largest ever catch in Iceland.