Blue Lagoon Extends Closure Today, Reassessment Tomorrow

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon will remain closed today, February 14. The company will reassess the situation tomorrow and provide updates on its website. 

Blue Lagoon evacuated, all facilities closed

Following a volcanic eruption that commenced on the morning of February 8, the management at the Blue Lagoon took precautionary measures to evacuate and temporarily close all of its facilities. 

In an update published on its website yesterday, the Blue Lagoon noted that although the eruption had ceased, a decision had been made to keep all of the facilities closed through today, Wednesday, February 14. The situation will be reassessed tomorrow and further updates will be provided on the website as soon as new information is available.

The announcement notes that all guests with bookings during this temporary closure period will be contacted. Guests wishing to modify or cancel their bookings are directed to use the My Booking portal. 

“We will continue to closely follow the guidelines and recommendations of the authorities, working collaboratively with them to monitor the progression of events. This commitment aligns with our unwavering dedication to ensuring the safety and well-being of our valued guests and staff,” the announcement reads. 

Blue Lagoon Extends Closure Until December 9

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon has extended its closure until December 9. Seismic activity in the Reykjanes peninsula has decreased over the past weeks, with significantly fewer and smaller earthquakes being registered in the area.

Seismic activity continues to decrease

On November 9, the Blue Lagoon announced that it would be closing its lagoon, hotels, spa, and restaurants owing to the ongoing geological unrest in the area. The closure was initially slated to last until November 16 but was later extended until December 7.

The Blue Lagoon has now announced that it will be extending the closure for two days, or until December 9. As noted in an update on the Icelandic MET Office’s website on December 1, seismic activity in the Reykjanes peninsula has continued to decrease, with significantly fewer and smaller earthquakes being registered in the area over recent weeks. Most of the earthquakes are measuring below one in magnitude.

For more information on the situation in the Reykjanes peninsula, click here.

Statement from the Blue Lagoon in full:

“The current closure of Blue Lagoon will remain in effect until 07:00 on December 9, at which point the situation will be reassessed. The current closure of Silica Hotel and Retreat Hotel will remain in effect until 07:00 on December 12, at which point the situation will be reassessed. All guests with reservations during the closure will be contacted.”

Hellisheiði Closed Temporarily Today Due to Roadwork

Route 1 Iceland

A section of Iceland’s Ring Road over the Hellisheiði mountain pass will be closed today for roadwork. Traffic will be rerouted via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur during the closure.

Closed between 9 AM and 2 PM

A portion of Iceland´s Ring Road (Route 1) leading over the Hellisheiði mountain pass — connecting the capital area to the South Coast — will be temporarily closed today due to roadwork.

The road will be closed eastbound, towards Hveragerði, between 9 AM and 12 noon. From 10 AM to 2 PM, the road will be closed westbound, towards Reykjavík. Traffic will be redirected via Þrengslavegur and Þorlákshafnarvegur road (see below image of the Þrengslavegur reroute).

Ring Road
Þrengslavegur reroute (Google Maps)

 

 

Blue Lagoon to Remain Closed Until November 30

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon, along with its associated facilities, has extended its closure until November 30 due to ongoing geological unrest on the Reykjanes peninsula. Following the detection of sulphur dioxide emissions, an immediate evacuation of Grindavík was ordered earlier today.

Closure extended

Last Thursday, November 9, the Blue Lagoon announced that it would be closing its lagoon, hotels, spa, and restaurants owing to the ongoing geological unrest in the area. The closure was initially slated to last until November 16, at least, with the situation being regularly assessed.

Tonight, given that the geological unrest has continued, the Blue Lagoon announced that it would be extending its closure until November 30. As noted in the announcement, it is currently impossible to determine when or where a volcanic eruption might occur. The Icelandic MET Office, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, alongside a team of scientists from the University of Iceland are closely monitoring the situation and analysing ongoing developments.

Immediate evacuation ordered

Earlier today, residents of Grindavík were allowed a brief return to the town to collect valuables. Shortly before 3 PM, while around 90 residents were in their homes and businesses, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, in conjunction with the Suðurnes Police, mandated an immediate evacuation, signalled by town sirens.

The authorities later clarified that the rapid evacuation of Grindavík was prompted by readings from the Icelandic Meteorological Office’s gas metres, which detected sulphur dioxide emissions from the ground near Grindavík. The Suðurnes Police reported that the evacuation was completed in just 95 seconds. Officials express hope that they can allow residents to safely return to Grindavík tomorrow.

Full statement

Below you will find the full statement from the Blue Lagoon:

“The chances of a volcanic eruption on the Reykjanes Peninsula have significantly increased, initiating the precautionary evacuation of the town Grindavík to ensure the safety of residents. The evacuation commenced on the evening of November 10, following a Phase of Emergency declared by the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management.

At this moment it is not possible to determine when or where an eruption might occur. The Icelandic Meteorological Office, Civil Protection, and a team of scientists from the University of Iceland are closely monitoring the situation and analysing the developments.

Iceland is no stranger to volcanic activity, and there have been three eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula in the last two years. Icelandic authorities and local communities are well-prepared for such events, and Iceland has one of the world’s most effective volcanic preparedness measures. Iceland’s geoscientists possess vast experience in dealing with volcanic activities.

On November 9, Blue Lagoon made the proactive decision to temporarily close its facilities, affecting operations at Blue Lagoon, Silica Hotel, Retreat Spa, Retreat Hotel, Lava, and Moss Restaurant. Considering disruptions to our guests’ experience and the sustained pressure on our employees, these precautionary measures were taken to ensure the safety and well-being of all. The closure will remain in effect until 7 AM on November 30, at which point the situation will be reassessed.”

Strikes Likely to Force Closure of Swimming Pools This Weekend

Reykjavík swimming pool Laugardalslaug

Strikes by members of the BSRB union who are employed by swimming pools will most likely force the closure of public pools in West, North, and East Iceland over the Whit Sunday weekend. Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of BSRB, told Mbl.is today that “the knot had been slightly loosened” in the wage negotiations between the BSRB and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (SNS), although there remained “some distance” between the negotiating parties.

Strikes begin

On May 15, BSRB – Iceland’s largest federation of public sector unions, comprising 19 labour unions with some 23,000 members – began strike action as part of its ongoing negotiations with the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities (SNS). Some 1,000 workers – including staff in preschools in Kópavogur, Garðabær, and Mosfellsbær, and primary schools in Kópavogur, Seltjarnarnes, and Mosfellsbær – went on strike.

Further strike action was approved last Friday, May 19, which means that this weekend, the number of people participating in BSRB strikes will be around 1,700. Eighteen municipalities will be affected by the strikes.

As noted in an announcement from BSRB this morning, the staff of swimming pools and sports centres in West, North, and East Iceland are among those who will begin strikes this weekend. This will most likely mean that numerous public pools within affected municipalities will be forced to close their doors to visitors over the Whit Sunday weekend.

“If agreements are not reached before June 5, swimming pools and sports centres will be added in even more municipalities, including the capital area, until agreements are reached,” the announcement further notes.

Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of BSRB, told Mbl.is today that “the knot had been slightly loosened” in the wage negotiations between the BSRB and the Icelandic Association of Local Authorities; although there remained “some distance” between the negotiating parties.

The staff of the following swimming pools and sports facilities will stop working this weekend:

Akureyri
Akureyri swimming pool
Glerárskóli swimming pool (Glerárskóli Sports Centre)
The sports centre in Hrísey (swimming pool and gym)

Dalvíkurbyggð
Dalvík sports centre (swimming pool)

Fjallabyggð
The swimming pool in Ólafsfjörður and the Fjallabyggð sports centre in Ólafsfjörður
The swimming pool in Siglufjörður and the Fjallabyggð sports centre in Siglufjörður

Skagafjörður
The swimming pool in Varmahlíð and the Varmahlíð sports centre
Sauðárkrókur swimming pool and the Sauðárkrókur sports centre
The swimming pool in Hofsós

Fjarðabyggð
Stefánslaug in Neskaupstaður

Borgarbyggð
Swimming pool and sports centre in Borgarnes

Snæfellsbær
Snæfellsbær swimming pool and sports centre

Vesturbyggð
Brattahlíð, swimming pool in Patreksfjörður

Fréttablaðið, Iceland’s First Freely Distributed Newspaper, Shuttered

Fréttablaðið

The publication of Fréttablaðið, the first newspaper to be distributed for free in Iceland, has ceased. All broadcasts on the television station Hringbraut will also come to a close. Approximately 100 people have been laid off in what the editor of Fréttablaðið has called “a shock for democracy in Iceland.”

Decision caught many by surprise

In a press release this morning, the company Torg (which operates Fréttablaðið, Hringbraut, and DV) announced that a decision had been made to shutter Fréttablaðið, which has been published continuously since 2001. Furthermore, all broadcasts from the television station Hringbraut will cease.

As noted by Vísir, a staff meeting was called at Torg’s office in Hafnartorg, Reykjavík, this morning, where employees were informed of the pending changes. According to Vísir’s sources, there had been “great uncertainty about the future of Fréttablaðið among the employees for some time.” The news, nonetheless, caught many by surprise – not least those who were off duty or were engaged in projects out of town.

An announcement from Torg cites “various reasons” why the operations had failed:

“There are many reasons why Fréttablaðið’s business is unsustainable. Partly it is down to bad luck and partly it is an unavoidable development, as the publication of print media has rapidly subsided, not least in this country. Digital media is gradually taking over. Also, the operating environment of private media in Iceland is uninviting. There is nothing to do but face these facts. All employees of Torg were paid their salaries today.”

The announcement further cites the pandemic as a reason for Fréttablaðið’s operational troubles, as well as a dramatic decline in ad revenues: “During the epidemic, government support for private media was introduced, which was appreciated, although it did not suffice to sustain larger media companies. Subsequently, the government has provided financial support to the activities of the media, but that contribution has dwindled.”

Torg’s announcement states that the operation of the websites DV.is and Hringbraut.is would continue alongside the publication of Iceland Magazine.

Editor speaks out

After the news broke, Sigmundur Ernir Rúnarsson, editor of Fréttablaðið, stated that this was “a sad day” for his colleagues at Torg, who had collaborated on the publication of the newspaper, the operation of its website, alongside the production of television programmes and podcasts. According to Vísir, twelve employees of DV.is will keep their jobs.

Sigmundur Ernir told Vísir that employees had worked hard to “revive Fréttablaðið under very difficult conditions, after the pandemic, after the war in Ukraine, which has had a great impact on the operation, and, in fact, the operation of all private media. There is a cross-political agreement to foster one media outlet – that of the state media. The others can do what they want. Everyone who runs a private media company today knows that they are very heavily targeted by the public sector. [It remains to be seen whether there is any] interest in running a democratic, vigorous media in the country.”

As noted by Vísir, Fréttablaðið was first published on Monday, April 23, 2001. Its first editor was Einar Karl Haraldsson. The publication of the paper marked a turning point in Icelandic media history, as the paper was distributed free of charge to homes and advertising revenue served as the basis for its operations. As a result, the paper soon became the most widely read in the country.

Continued Cold Spell: Three Pools in South Iceland Closed

Low cost of electricity in Iceland compared with the rest of Europe

Three public pools in South Iceland will be closed indefinitely today to save hot water, RÚV reports. Iceland’s national utility company does not expect rationing to affect households. Temperatures around the country are expected to drop further this week.

A spell of freezing temperatures

Temperatures in Iceland have barely risen above 0°C over the past days – and the weather is expected to get colder as the week progresses. As noted by RÚV, households in Iceland have been kept warm by an abundance of geothermal energy, and according to information from Veitur – Iceland’s national utility company – the country’s hot-water system is well equipped to handle the cold spell; the system has yet to reach its limit, although Veitur will continue to assess the state of the system on a daily basis.

Even though the country’s hot-water supply is expected to handle the coming cold without incident, Rangárveitur, which manages the hot-water supply in three municipalities in South Iceland, is nearing its limit, a press release from Veitur notes. In light of the cold weather, the local authorities have decided to close three public pools in the area – in Hvolsvöllur, Hella, and Laugaland – starting today. The authorities hope that the pools will only be closed for a few days, or over the coldest period.

Order of priority

As far as additional reductions to the hot-water supply are concerned, a Veitur spokesperson told RÚV that cuts were always made first among large users – bathing lagoons, public pools, and butcheries, e.g. In the event of forced rationing, Veitur screens for “essential services” while also assessing whether relevant water conduits were capable of withstanding closures. As it stands, there is enough hot water to keep Icelandic households warm, although Veitur could be forced to make brief reductions (as in the case of the public pools in the Rangárvellir municipality).

Veitur recommends that homeowners keep their hot-water usage within reasonable limits. Ideally, radiator valves are to be set at 3 (20°C), allowing the thermostatic valve to detect the temperature in the room and adjust accordingly. Windows should be kept closed.

Hot Water Shortage in Selfoss: Public Pool Closed Indefinitely

Selfoss - Suðurland - Ölfusá

A fire in an electrical box of the Selfossveitur utility company has led to a hot-water shortage in Selfoss. The Árborg municipality has encouraged residents to save water and the public swimming pool in Selfoss has been closed indefinitely.

Contingency plan activated

As noted in a press release from the Árborg municipality yesterday, an electrical box in one of the boreholes of the Selfossveitur utility company caught fire on the night before Thursday, December 8. The fire forced a reduction in energy production, leading to a shortage of hot water.  

Selfossveitur subsequently activated its contingency plan, with residents of the Árborg municipality being encouraged to use their hot water sparingly. The municipality’s website offers advice to residents on how best to save water, including ensuring that windows and front doors remain closed and making sure that radiators are not blocked by long curtains or furniture.

In light of the shortages, Sundhöll Selfoss, the public swimming pool in the town of Selfoss, has been indefinitely closed.

“Which is why we’ve decided to close the Selfoss public swimming pool indefinitely. We will let you know immediately when we have a more detailed timeline regarding when we’ll open again,” a press release from the Selfoss swimming pool on Facebook reads.

 

Árborg municipality
Fire in electrical junction box (Arborg.is)