COVID-19 in Iceland: National Church Cancels New Year's Ceremonies Skip to content

COVID-19 in Iceland: National Church Cancels New Year’s Ceremonies

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Fireworks Exploding over Reykjavík
Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Iceland’s National Church buildings will be empty this New Year’s Eve, Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir announced as omicron variant infection wave reaches record highs.

In light of the recent omicron variant infection surge, Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland has issued an announcement that the country’s churches won’t be accepting guests for religious ceremonies this New Year’s Eve.

Three ceremonies will take place to usher in the new year, but no visitors will be allowed. Instead, the ceremonies will be broadcast on the National Radio station Rás 1.

On New Year’s Eve at 6 pm – Evensong in Hallgrímskirkja. Rev. Sigurður Árni Þórðarson officiates with a sermon from rev. Eiríkur Jóhannsson. Organist: Björn Steinar Sólbergsson. Music by the Hallgrímsskirkja choir, directed by Steinar Logi Helgason.

On New Year’s Day at 11 am – Service in the Reykjavík Cathedral. Sermon by Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, officiated by Rev. Sveinn Valgeirsson and rev. Elínborg Sturludóttir. Organist: Kári Þormar. Music by the Cathedral choir.

On Sunday, January 2 at 11 am – Service in Áskirkja in Laugardalur valley in Reykjavík. Sermon and officiated by Rev. Sigurður Jónsson. Organist: Bjartur Logi Guðnason. Music by the Áskirkja choir.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland or the National Church is Iceland’s largest religious institution by far, with 62% of the nation as its members. The second-largest religious organisation is the catholic church, with 4% of the nation. 7.6% of the nation don’t belong to a religious organisation.

Iceland is currently experiencing a surge in infections, most due to the omicron variant. 1600 people tested positive over Christmas and December 26 saw record numbers, with 664 domestic infections. Despite reports from other countries indicating that omicron infections cause fewer hospitalisations, restrictions were tightened on December 22 as the surge in infections could still counteract the milder illness and put a strain on the National Hospital.

Read More: What’s the Status of COVID-19 in Iceland

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