Blue Lagoon Extends Closure Until April 1 Due to Ongoing Eruption

The Blue Lagoon Iceland

The Blue Lagoon has extended the closure of its facilities until April 1 due to volcanic pollution from the nearby eruption. A representative from the Blue Lagoon told RÚV yesterday that management would not reopen the facilities until it was completely safe for staff and visitors.

Monitoring pollution from the eruption closely

The Blue Lagoon was evacuated on March 16 when a volcanic eruption in Sundhnúkagígar commenced and has remained closed ever since. This morning, the Blue Lagoon, in consultation with the Icelandic Meteorological Office, decided to further extend its closure until April 1, primarily on account of volcanic pollution. The situation will be reassessed on April 1.

Helga Árnadóttir, Chief Sales, Operation & Service Officer at Blue Lagoon Iceland, told RÚV yesterday that volcanic pollution in the area was being closely monitored: “We anticipate that Grindavíkurvegur road will reopen in the coming days, but we are dealing pollution from the eruption, which we are managing by increasing measurements.”

At the request of the Blue Lagoon, the Icelandic Meteorological Office installed monitors near the popular tourist destination. Sulphur dioxide levels in the area reached up to 5,000 ppm yesterday morning, levels which are potentially hazardous to human health.

As noted by RÚV, volcanic pollution was also recorded in the town of Höfn, with the Icelandic Meteorological Office recommending that residents close windows, turn off air conditioning, and monitor air quality.

The Blue Lagoon will continue to reassess the situation: “We have been taking one step at a time … intend to manage the situation well before reopening,” Helga observed. As noted by RÚV, one employee of the lagoon had to seek medical attention at a hospital last week due to volcanic emissions. He is on sick leave, according to Helga.

“We will not reopen until we and the authorities deem it completely safe for both staff and guests to return. This has a lot to do with wind conditions and how these measurements develop from day to day,” Helga concluded.

Iceland’s Post Office Responds to Consumer Shift with Closures

Iceland Post will close ten post offices in June, transitioning to delivery via postal vehicles and post boxes, and introducing home delivery services in select areas, reflecting changes in consumer demand.

Decreased demand for counter services

Changes to postal services at ten locations across the country are planned for the beginning of June. As noted in a press release on the website of Iceland Post (Íslandspóstur), there are plans to close five collaborative post offices and an equal number of independently operated post offices.

After these closures, deliveries will be handled by postal vehicle drivers and through post boxes in the following locations: Hvammstangi in Northwest Iceland; Siglufjörður, Dalvík, and Ólafsfjörður in North Iceland; Búðardalur and Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula; Fáskrúðsfjörður, Eskifjörður, Breiðdalsvík, and Neskaupstaður in East Iceland.

Post boxes, already installed at most of the aforementioned places, will also be set up next month in Búðardalur, Ólafsfjörður, Breiðdalsvík, and Siglufjörður. Kjartan Flosason, Head of Post Terminal at Iceland Post, emphasises the development of services in line with changing needs and consumer demands.

“There has been a decrease in demand for counter services at post offices. Therefore, we are focused on developing alternative solutions. Our most satisfied customers are those who use post boxes. Customers can now mail items in post boxes. Like always, the post boxes are open all year round, 24 hours a day,” Kjartan is quoted as saying in the press release.

Postal trucks will also be operational in these areas. “Home delivery services will now be offered in Hvammstangi, Dalvík, Breiðdalsvík, and Ólafsfjörður. It’s worth mentioning that this service was not available before these changes,” Kjartan stated.

Discussions have taken place with the staff at the post offices that are set to close, according to Kjartan. “The changes will affect six full-time positions. Several employees have been offered different roles or relocation. I want to thank the excellent staff who are now leaving their positions and wish them success in their next endeavours.”

Blue Lagoon Reopens Following Eruption Closure

Reykjanes Svartsengi power plant

After closing down all facilities following a volcanic eruption on February 8, the Blue Lagoon has reopened. In an announcement published today, the company emphasised that its facilities were located “within an area at risk due to seismic activity” and that experts from the Icelandic Meteorological Office would continue to monitor ongoing developments.

Access via an alternative route

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 this week, the Blue Lagoon noted that although the eruption had ceased, a decision had been made to keep all of the facilities closed through Wednesday, February 14. 

Today, the company announced that all of its facilities have been reopened

“We are happy to announce the reopening of Blue Lagoon Iceland, with all operational units now open to our guests. Our facilities, including Blue Lagoon, Blue Café, the Lava and Moss restaurants, the Retreat and Silica hotels, the Retreat Spa, and our on-site store, are ready to welcome you back,” the announcement reads.

The Blue Lagoon’s operating hours have been temporarily adjusted. Facilities are now open between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM. Bookings can be made at 7:00 PM at the latest.

As noted in the announcement, the Blue Lagoon is only accessible via an alternative route. It is important to note that access via this alternate route is strictly limited to guests holding valid bookings. The road is narrow, and guests are asked to be mindful of the speed limit.

“This reopening is a collaborative effort with local authorities, ensuring ongoing safety in light of recent seismic and volcanic events. We wish to inform guests that our operational units are located within an area at risk due to seismic activity as identified by the Icelandic Meteorological Office. Experts continue to closely monitor the area and the ongoing developments of seismic activity through round-the-clock, real-time analysis.”

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.”

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.”

Tjarnarbíó Theatre to “Shut Up Shop” Without Increased Funding

Tjarnarbíó theatre

In an interview with Vísir yesterday, Sara Martí Guðmundsdóttir, Director of the Tjarnarbíó theatre in downtown Reykjavík, stated that despite a record-breaking year of sales, current grants would not suffice for the continued operation of the theatre. Without increased support from the City of Reykjavík or the state, Tjarnarbíó would have to close for good this September.

Theatre to close September 1

Over the past year, organisers, staff, and actors of Tjarnarbíó have tried to draw attention to the poor state of the theatre, Vísir notes. The building has long been too small and run-down; the equipment outdated; and, despite vigorous operations, the theatre has not received sufficient funds to continue to operate.

Yesterday morning, Sara Martí Guðmundsdóttir, Director of Tjarnarbíó, sent an email to all parties involved in next year’s performances to inform them that the theatre would close in September.

“It’s just very sad. Considering how little we need; it’s ridiculous that we have to close. We’re shutting up shop. Simple as that,” Sara Martí told Vísir. “Tjarnarbío will have to close in September if no help is received. After September 1, I can’t afford to pay our staff a salary, and then a whole acting year goes to waste,” she added.

Shutting up shop despite record sales

Sara told Vísir that demand for venues in the performing arts scene had long since outpaced supply, adding that almost no other theatre aside from Tjarnarbíó had attended to the needs of independent troupes. Furthermore, expenses had gone up while the operating subsidy that the theatre receives had remained the same.

“Salaries have increased. The cost of supplies has increased. Everything has gone up. Although we’ve just had a record year – with a record number of viewers – this is the reality that we’re facing.”

“Our scene has long since become too big,” Sara Martí continued. “There are a lot of performing artists who need space. We’re not only referring to theatre troupes but also dance troupes, stand-up comics, and sketch shows. There are a plethora of people who need a stage, and we’re the only theatre attending to their demands. So if the state and the city want a performing arts scene, they need to do something.”

Sara revealed that Tjarnarbíó had been in contact with the City of Reykjavík. “And the last thing we heard was: ‘We can’t help; we can’t come up with the measly ISK 7 million ($51,000 / €47,000) to help you for the rest of the year. Let alone everything else you need to run the business properly.’ And we haven’t heard a thing from the government, even though we’ve sent a memo to them recently.”

“Years of neglect”

As noted by Vísir, Tjarnarbíó has served as one of the few refuges for independent theatre troupes in Iceland; only a small number of grantees from the Performing Arts Fund are accommodated by the big theatres, so Tjarnarbíó has been their home turf.

When asked how the theatre had managed to operate thus far, Sara Martí responded that Tjarnarbíó had managed with the operating grant received from the City of Reykjavík, which amounted to ca. ISK 22 million ($160,000 / €148,000).

“But it’s not enough to remunerate the theatre’s four full-time employees. Because the building is so old, we keep having to spend money on things for which we shouldn’t be paying. The building and the scene itself have been neglected for an awfully long time, which is why we’ve reached this point now. Either someone does something or we have to shut up shop. Because we’ve certainly done everything in our power,” Sara Martí remarked.

She continued by saying that the theatre had accommodated an unprecedented number of troupes during the winter season. With activities from 9 am to 4 pm and evening performances, the theatre operated at full capacity. “I’ve not had a night off throughout the year,” Sara observed.

Numerous troupes left “homeless”

Sara concluded by saying that the closure of the Tjarnarbíó theatre would not only mean the loss of the venue but would also leave numerous troupes “homeless.” Furthermore, the closure would result in the wastage of tens of millions of króna that had already been invested in the performing arts economy.

According to Sara, this would have significant implications, affecting the livelihoods of around 300 performing artists and hundreds of others involved in the industry. She entreated the Minister of Culture, the Mayor of Reykjavík, and the head of the Department of Culture to intervene.

Closure of Reykjanesbraut Cost Icelandair ISK 1 Billion

Icelandair

The CEO of Icelandair has stated that the storm in December, and the subsequent closure of Reykjanesbraut, cost the company approximately ISK 1 billion ($7 million / €6.4 million). Thousands were left stranded at Keflavík Airport due to the closure.

Best fourth-quarter performance since 2015

Yesterday, Icelandair published its consolidated financial report for 2022. The report states that the company’s full-year EBIT amounted to ISK 2.7 billion ($19 million / €17.4 million), which is an improvement by ISK 19 billion ($136 / €124 million), and that strong revenue generation resulted in the best fourth quarter performance since 2015. “In 2022, we brought around 740 thousand tourists to Iceland and recruited around 1,000 employees,” the report reads.

The report also notes that weather disruptions in December negatively affected results for the fourth quarter of 2022: “It was negatively affected by significant disruptions in the flight schedule caused by weather conditions in Iceland in December, in the midst of the pre-Christmas travel period. The negative effect on EBIT is estimated around $7 million (ISK 1 billion / €6.4 million) in lost revenue cost of leasing extra aircraft, and increased passenger-related costs. [The] majority of the negative effect is related to the closure of the main road between the capital area and KEF airport while the airport itself was operational,” Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair, was quoted as saying.

Bogi concluded by saying that following “the crisis,” a thorough review had been performed by the Ministry of Infrastructure in order to prevent similar events in the future.

Thorough review by the Ministry of Infrastructure

As noted by RÚV, Reykjanesbraut was closed on December 19 and 20 of last year. Thousands of tourists were left stranded at Keflavík Airport during the storm.

The working group of the Minister of Infrastructure submitted a report on the matter in late January, which states, among other things, that it would not have been possible to completely prevent the closure of the Reykjanesbraut, considering the weather conditions during the period in question, and the statutory roles of the Icelandic Road Administration and the police in ensuring the safety of drivers.

Work Group to Submit Report on Reykjanesbraut Closure

Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson

A work group appointed by Minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson to review the closure of Reykjanesbraut in December is expected to submit a draft plan to the Ministry of Infrastructure next week, Mbl.is reports. The closure of Reykjanesbraut led to numerous flight cancellations and delays.

Reykjanesbraut closure leads to flight cancellations, delays

Following heavy snow in the capital area during the days leading up to Christmas, Reykjanesbraut – the road leading to Keflavík Airport – became impassable. The closure led to numerous flight delays and cancellations, with many travellers expressing their criticism of the Icelandic authorities.

Speaking to Mbl.is in December, Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannson stated that the situation was unacceptable: “I have to say, right now, we have to get over this and ensure, as far as that’s possible, that Reykjanesbraut is not closed while the airport is open.”

Sigurður Ingi subsequently appointed a work group composed of representatives from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, the National Police Commissioner, and the Suðurnes police chief. The work group was tasked with reviewing the events in December and drafting a plan on how best to deal with similar situations.

“We are working hard on the report in collaboration with these groups,” Hjördís Guðmundsdóttir, Director of Communications for the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management, told Mbl.is this morning. The work group is expected to submit its report on Tuesday, January 10.

“We scrutinise everything we do, so it’s natural for us to scrutinise this,” she added.

Two Groups of Hikers Rescued at Closed Eruption Site

Meradalir eruption, August 2022

Search and rescue teams rescued two groups of travellers from the Meradalir eruption site yesterday evening. The site had been closed to visitors since early Sunday morning due to bad weather conditions, but not all travellers had respected the closure. After the two groups were rescued, crews combed the area to ensure no others were in the area and found a few more individuals who were escorted down to the parking lot.

The two groups, around ten people in total, had gotten lost on their way to the eruption site, a challenging hike of around 7 kilometres. Some had set off on the hike ill-prepared, despite being told to turn back by search and rescue volunteers who were on site.

Eruption site remains closed

The Department of Civil Bad weather has announced that the eruption site will remain closed to visitors today due to inclement weather. Authorities will meet at 8:30 AM tomorrow, Wednesday, August 10, to decide whether the site will be reopened.

Read more about what you need to know when visiting the Meradalir eruption.

Eruption Site Closed Today

Meradalir eruption, August 2022

The Meradalir eruption site is closed today, Monday, August 8, due to bad weather and poor conditions on the trail, the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management has announced. Crews will use the time to repair the main route, known as Hiking Trail A. Access to the eruption site will be reopened tomorrow, August 9, at 10:00 AM.

Suðurnes police emphasise that no search and rescue crews will be on duty today at the eruption site to respond to emergencies.

At least five times larger than last year’s eruption

The eruption in Meradalir began on August 3 at 1:18 PM. While it is at least five times larger than last year’s eruption in nearby Geldingadalir, it is still considered a relatively minor eruption. Currently, the lava flow is not threatening roads, infrastructure, or inhabited areas.

The hike to the eruption is challenging and not for those who are inexperienced or unprepared. Gas poisoning is a risk that visitors need to be aware of, and staying upwind from eruption fumes is crucial. The site was closed yesterday due to gas pollution.

Read more about visiting the Meradalir eruption.