Whaling Vessel Suspended for Violating Welfare Protocols

Whaling ships

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has temporarily suspended the operations of whaling vessel Hvalur 8 for violating animal welfare protocols during a fin whale hunt, Vísir reports. The suspension will remain in place until corrective measures are verified by MAST and the Directorate of Fisheries.

Suspension in effect until corrective measures are adopted

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has temporarily halted the operations of the whaling vessel Hvalur 8, citing severe breaches of animal welfare protocols during the capture of a fin whale.

According to a press release on MAST’s website, a monitoring operation revealed that the initial shot fired from Hvalur 8 on September 7 struck a fin whale “outside the designated target area,” resulting in the animal’s failure to expire immediately.

Per newly-established regulations, the animal should have been dispatched with a subsequent shot without delay. However, the follow-up shot was not administered until approximately 30 minutes later, leading to the animal’s death a few minutes thereafter. The delay constitutes a violation of both animal welfare laws and long-line fishing regulations, according to MAST’s statement.

As noted by MAST, the suspension will remain in effect until corrective measures have been implemented and verified by both Mast and the Directorate of Fisheries (i.e. Fiskistofa).

All Vaccinated Passengers with “Connections to Iceland” to be Screened

Icelandair airplane

Beginning on August 16, all vaccinated passengers with connections to Iceland will be required to undergo screening within 48 hours of arriving in the country.

On the advice of the Chief Epidemiologist

Following a cabinet meeting this morning, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced that beginning on August 16 the government will require all vaccinated passengers with “connections to Iceland” to undergo screening for COVID-19 within 48 hours of arriving in the country.

“On the advice of the Chief Epidemiologist, we will begin screening vaccinated passengers who are connected to Iceland upon their arrival,” Katrín stated in an interview with RÚV. “This means that not only those individuals who have an Icelandic ID number will be screened – as per the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendation – but also those who have connections to Iceland.”

According to the government’s website, the latter group is defined as follows:

  • Icelandic citizens
  • Icelandic residents
  • Individuals with an Icelandic work permit
  • Work-permit applicants and those who have applied for international protection in Iceland

These individuals will be required to undergo either PCR or antigen (rapid) testing within 48 hours of arriving in the country but will not be required to self isolate as they wait for their results. The authorities will be reviewing how best to implement these measures over the next ten days.

“This wave is different”

Over the past few days, the government has also met with representatives from various trade organisations and institutions to discuss the effects of the pandemic on schooling, healthcare, culture, and sports.

Speaking to RÚV this afternoon, PM Katrín Jakobsdótter emphasised the success of the vaccination campaign in protecting against grave illness, while adding that the authorities must thoroughly review the capability of the healthcare system to contend with this newest iteration of the pandemic.

“It’s obvious that this wave of the pandemic differs from previous ones, given that we’ve got numerous new infections but fewer instances of serious illness, which is more common among the unvaccinated,” Katrín stated. According to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health has introduced proposals on how best to ensure the effectiveness of the healthcare system during this new phase of the pandemic.

Booster shots imminent

In addition to the above measures, the government has also reviewed its vaccination policy, hoping to better reach those individuals who turned down jabs. Furthermore, the authorities to expedite the process of administering booster shots to recipients of the Jansen vaccine and have decided to offer individuals in retirement homes and those who suffer from underlying medical conditions booster shots, as well.

No decision, however, has been made whether to tighten domestic restrictions nor what kind of measures will be adopted on August 13, when the current restrictions lapse. Vaccinated passengers (and those with a prior infection) born in 2004 or earlier, will still be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test (not older than 72 hours) prior to boarding a vessel to Iceland.

1 Metre Rule Takes Effect, 300 People Can Come Together

pedestrian street Laugavegur Reykjavík

Social restrictions were eased as of midnight today. The gathering limit has been raised from 150 to 300 people and the one-metre rule has replaced the two-metre rule.

As noted on covid.is, masks will still be mandatory at seated events, and the same goes for other events or places where the one-metre rule cannot be guaranteed.

Night clubs will be allowed to remain open until midnight, with guests being required to leave the premises before 1 am. Restaurants owners are still required to keep a written record of patrons but are now allowed to be open until midnight.

300 people may now attend theatres, cinemas, and other cultural events. Sports competitions are allowed, both inside and outside, but hosts must keep a written record of guests. Swimming pools can likewise open at maximum capacity, and the same holds for gyms, where up to 300 can gather in the same location so long as they adhere to the one-metre rule.

Gathering limits, social-distancing restrictions, and mask obligations do not extend to children born in 2015 or later. The obligation to wear a mask does not apply to children born in 2005 or later. Those individuals who have already been infected with COVID-19 and completed isolation are exempt from wearing a mask.

The new regulations will remain in force up to and including June 29, 2021.