Hospital Reinstates Mask Requirements Due to Increase in COVID Cases

mask use social distancing

The spread of COVID-19 has increased in the past few days, as around 200 people test positive for Covid daily. The number of people with COVID Is likely a lot higher as many test positive at home, don’t get their results confirmed with the healthcare clinics, and are not counted in the healthcare system’s official numbers. The Directorate of Health stated that most new infections are in people who have not had covid, while people who have already had COVID and are infected again amount to under 10% of cases.

Just under 30 people are hospitalised in the National Hospital with COVID-19, and two are in ICU, one of which requires a ventilator. Most hospitalised people are over 70, but severe illness is most common in people who have had three or fewer vaccinations.

The public, especially those over 80 years old, is encouraged to keep up personal infection preventions and get vaccinated if they haven’t already had their shot. People over 80 and those living in nursing homes are encouraged to receive their second booster shot.

The National Hospital is reinstating its mask requirements and limiting the number of visitors due to the increase in new COVID cases. All guests and staff at the hospital are required to wear masks, and visiting hours are limited to one visitor for one hour per patient.

In an interview with RÚV, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur GUðnason stated that authorities will not be responding to the increase in infections by reinstating infection prevention restrictions just yet. “It’s crystal clear that the nation is not inclined to reinstate restrictions. It’s the government that has the final say in these matters,” Þórólfur told RÚV.

Less Cod, More Haddock To Be Fished Next Year

fish fishing haddock

The Icelandic Marine and Freshwater Research Institute has suggested a 6% decrease in cod catch quotas for the next fishing season. A notice from the Institute states that the decline is due to a lower estimate of the reference biomass compared to previous years and the effect of the catch stabiliser in the harvest control rule.

The Institute is hopeful for cod in Icelandic waters, stating: “The reference biomass of cod is expected to increase slightly in the next two to three years when the 2019 and 2020 cohorts enter the reference biomass as they are estimated to be above average in terms of size.”

Meanwhile, suggested catch quotas for haddock increase to 62,219 tonnes, up 23% from last year.

MFRI Director Þorsteinn Sigurðsson stated in an introductory meeting that several fish stocks, including tusk, ling, blue ling, beaked redfish, anglerfish, witch, megrim, and langoustine, have been experiencing poor recruitment in the past few years, Fiskifréttir report. These fish stay in the warmer waters to the south and west coast of Iceland. “Unfortunately, there seems to be little change for the better. The reasons for this negative development are unknown, but the most likely explanation is that it’s due to changes in Iceland’s marine environment.”

I’m a musician: how can I get press coverage of my music in Iceland?

Söngvakeppnin - Daði og Gagnamagnið

Iceland has a lively music scene, with a plethora of diverse performing and recording artists. Local media does a fine job covering new local releases and concerts, particularly the Icelandic national radio, but also local print newspapers, both in Icelandic and English.

When it comes to music, Icelandic media has quite a local focus, and when international artists are covered, they are usually artists that are well-known globally, or have a special connection with Iceland (like, for example, having lived here for many years, such as Damon Albarn or John Grant).

If you are coming to Iceland to perform, contacting local newspapers and radio is a good bet in order to get press coverage. If you’d like to know more about the local scene, you can contact Iceland Music, the music export office of Iceland. While they mostly help Iceland-based musicians to develop their careers, they also connect international musicians to the local scene.

Musicians from abroad who come to record in Iceland are also eligible for a 25% refund of the costs incurred in recording in the country: more information at record.iceland.is.

Parliament Grants 12 Individuals Icelandic Citizenship

Musician John Grant

Parliamentary parties have agreed to process 25 out of the 70 requests for Icelandic citizenship Parliament has received, Vísir reports. This was one of the last points of argument before Parliament can be closed for summer.

Minority parties the Social Democratic Alliance, the Pirate Party and the Reform Party were not satisfied with the way the government parties wanted to approach citizenship applications this year and were ready to postpone the closing of parliament until they had reached a decision.

The parties reached an agreement this week and agreed to process 25 of the 70 applications Parliament had received. The other 45 will be processed as soon as Parliament opens again in the autumn. The reason for the delay is a change in the Directorate of Immigrations’ procedures regarding the applications ordered by Minister of Justice Jón Gunnarsson.

Parliament needs to consult the Directorate of Immigrations’ application reviews when processing the applications but the Minister requested that the Directorate would not prioritise the applications for Parliament over others. When the delays of the Parliament applications became clear last spring the Directorate was criticised for an attempt to change the citizenship procedures but they revealed the process was changed on the request of the Minister of Justice. Following the debate, the Directorate was charged with turning in the application reviews to the Parliament but now, as Parliament is closing fur summer, only 25 out of 70have been turned in. As part of the agreement to delay processing 45 applications until autumn, the parties will form a committee this summer to figure out how best to handle this in the future. Usually, Parliament grants citizenships twice a year, just before Christmas break and the summer holidays.

Out of the 25 applications processed yesterday, 12 people were granted Icelandic citizenship. Among the lucky dozen is musician John Grant and refugee Uhunoma Osayomore. John has worked in Iceland for a long time while Uhunoma’s case made headlines last year when he was denied asylum by Icelandic authorities. Last year, another well-known musician who has worked in Iceland for a long time was granted citizenship through the same process when Damon Albarn became an Icelandic citizen.

 

Master Plan Passed Through Parliament Despite Opposition

Jökulsá Eystri in Skagafjörður

The third phase of the Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilisation was passed through Parliament yesterday, with 34 votes for and seven against. Fifteen abstained from voting. The Master Plan was last passed through Parliament just under ten years ago and has often proven divisive as it mandates which rivers will be developed for hydropower plants and which ones will be allowed to remain untouched. Before the Master Plan passed through Parliament, the Environment and Communications Committee made some compromises that have been hotly contested by nature conservationists and the minority parties in Parliament.

An outline of which rivers will be developed for Hydro power plants

The Master Plan contains a list of locations where hydropower plants could theoretically rise and divides them into three categories: the Energy Utilisation category for places suitable for power plant construction, the On-hold category for places that require more research and preparation to figure out if they’re suitable or not, and the Protected category, for places that are deemed necessary for nature conservation.

Controversial options put on hold

The Environment and Communications Committee’s majority published the results of their work recently and in what looks like an effort to compromise and hold off on making decisions about controversial locations, Kjalölduveita and Héraðsvötn will be moved from the Protection category to On Hold while Skrokkalda and powerplants in the lower part of Þjórsá river will be moved from the Energy Utilisation category to the on-hold category.

Minority and conservationists object, division within majority parties

Representatives of the Icelandic Environment Association have stated that there is no new data to support moving these two places to the on-hold category and that the change is entirely political. Three minority parties in Parliament had suggested an amendment to the bill that would keep Héraðsvötn and Kjalölduveita in the protected category instead of moving them to the On-hold category. The suggestion was rejected with 33 votes against 21. One MP abstained and Bjarni Jónsson, MP for the Left-green movement voted for it, the only MP in the Majority to do so. Bjarni is one of the Left-green Movements representatives in the Environment and Communications Committee and refused to sign the committee’s report, due to his opposition to moving Héraðsvötn to the On-hold category.

Orri Páll Jóhannsson, the other of two Left-Green representatives in the committee told RÚV: “If we need to enlarge the on-hold category to pass it through parliament I will stick by the decision with the arguments mentioned in the committee report, reiterating that power options in the on-hold category will be reassessed.” On the subject of Héraðsvötn and Kjalölduveita, Orri recognised that the rivers have significant nature conservation interest but that they are controversial and need to be investigated further. He maintained that moving these places to the on-hold category did not mean that they would be moved to the energy utilisation category straight away, absolutely not.