A bill for temporary support for wage earners in Grindavík will be presented by Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market. The bill, inspired by COVID-19 relief measures, aims to secure the livelihood of those impacted by the town’s evacuation.
Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, the Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, will introduce a bill on temporary support for wage earners in Grindavík at a government meeting today. The bill aims to ensure the livelihood of employees of those businesses in Grindavík that have had to close due to the town’s evacuation amid ongoing geological unrest.
As noted by RÚV, the bill is based on measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic when the state financed the salary payments of those in quarantine. The payments will be capped at a certain maximum (during COVID, the maximum daily payments amounted to ISK 21,100 [$150/€138]). It is not yet clear whether the amount will be the same in the Social Affairs Minister’s bill.
“The objective of the bill is to ensure the livelihood of employees of those businesses in Grindavík that have had to close due to the situation. The goal is to reduce uncertainty among those facing loss of income and to protect the employment relationship,” Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, Minister of Social Affairs and the Labour Market, stated in an interview with RÚV.
Having been introduced to the coalition government, the bill is expected to be presented to Parliament next week to ensure that measures can be implemented before the end of the month. Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated that it was important to process the bill quickly:
“It is of immense importance that we can clearly communicate to the people of Grindavík that their financial security will be ensured for the coming months and that this resolution will be available in good time by the end of the month,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir remarked.
Select residents allowed re-entry
In an ongoing effort to allow residents to retrieve valuables from the town, the authorities have contacted those residents of Grindavík who will be allowed to enter the town today, starting at 9 AM. Businesses will be permitted re-entry after 2 PM. As noted by RÚV, electricity was restored to the eastern part of Grindavík in the afternoon yesterday following repairs.
Kristín Jónsdóttir, Head of the Department of Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Deformation at the Icelandic Meteorological Office, told reporters earlier this week that she believed an eruption would occur in the coming days; volcanic gas was detected within a borehole at the Svartsengi Power Plant yesterday. The end of the borehole extends close to a spot in the earth’s crust where the magma conduit is believed to be located. The gas is considered confirmation that magma is present north of Hagafell, as models have indicated.