Heightened Police Presence in Reykjavík This Weekend

police lögreglan

Partygoers in downtown Reykjavík this weekend can expect an increased presence among police authorities. The Capital Area’s Assistant Chief of Police has told RÚV that the police will “be ready” in the event of retaliatory violence following last weekend’s knife attack.

Spate of violence

Following mass arrests in wake of a knife attack at the Bankastræti Club nightclub in Reykjavík last weekend, which left three young men hospitalised, petrol bombs were thrown into houses, windows broken, and the suspects’ families were subjected to harassment. There were also posts on social media, encouraging retaliation for the attacks. The American and British embassies in Iceland subsequently issued travel advisories to tourists, warning them to avoid large crowds downtown this weekend.

Addressing these issues on the radio programme Morgunútvarpið this morning, Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson, Assistant Chief of Police for the Capital Area Police, stated that the police would command a much greater presence in downtown Reykjavík this weekend, in the event that further acts of violence were to be perpetrated.

“As far as we’ve gathered, there were, and are, threats of violence this weekend – and the operations of certain Reykjavík restaurants are expected to be disturbed,” Ásgeir stated. “We’re going to protect our city this weekend – as we’ve always done.”

When asked if individuals connected to the gang violence last weekend were expected to perpetrate further violence, Ásgeir replied that he hoped not. “But law enforcement isn’t predicated on hope. We have to be ready when we say that we’ll be ready and we’ll be ready this weekend.”

Ásgeir was unwilling to offer details on the exact meaning of “an increased presence” among police authorities but stated that they would mobilise more equipment and more officers capable of handling “difficult assignments.” This heightened police presence would not be lost on anyone.

“It’s absolutely clear that the people will feel our presence. We hope that the people involved in these altercations have come to their senses and won’t be dragging their disputes to downtown Reykjavík. I think that that’s something all of us, collectively, have been aiming towards,” Ásgeir stated.

Is It Really Over?

Reykjavík Nightlife after COVID

LOITERING BENEATH THE AWNING OF AN ASIAN RESTAURANT Raindrops are pattering on Laugavegur, and I’m debating whether or not to invest in a disposable vape pen. I’ve recently gone frigid turkey-bird but have made the concession of vaping during nights out on the town. Despite the exhilaration inherent within this escape clause, I forgo the […]

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Sirkus Reopens in Reykjavík After 15-Year Hiatus

Sirkus, the much-beloved and much-missed fixture of Reykjavík’s nightlife scene, reopened on Friday night after a 15-year hiatus, Vísir reports.

After closing the doors of its original location on Klapparstígur in Reykjavík, the club briefly opened an outpost in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland, and also inspired a doppelgänger in the Faroe Islands.

In addition to being a music venue, as in the old days, Sirkus’ new incarnation on Lækjargata also serves North Indian food and has darts and a pool table in the basement.

Find out about upcoming DJ sets and shows on Sirkus’ Instagram page, here.

All This Weekend’s Parties: Iceland Celebrates First Friday Out Since Lifting of COVID Restrictions

Bankastræti club nightlife post COVID

The lifting of all COVID-19 social restrictions on Friday, February 25 was big news for the nation, but particularly anticipated by stalwarts of the capital’s nightlife and clubbing scene, the weekly all-hours party known as the djamm. Friday was the first weekend evening since last summer that bars and clubs have been open without gathering restrictions or social distancing precautions. Vísir reports that police were prepared for an above-average number of callouts and disturbances and had increased their presence in downtown Reykjavík but say that there were actually fewer incidents than expected.

See Also: Iceland Lifts All COVID-19 Restrictions

“There were plenty of people downtown. People seemed to just be having a good time and there were only a few nightlife-related incidents that the police had to intervene in. So we’re just—the police are feeling good after the night,” remarked Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson, superintendent of the capital-area police.

The lifting of restrictions in neighbouring countries has led to an increase in disturbances and incidents leading to police intervention, noted Ásgeir Þór, but that was thankfully not the case in Reykjavík on Friday.

‘It’s possible that after two years, another kind of culture has emerged’

“Compared to a typical party night before COVID, there were far fewer problems than we’ve had on a night like this,” Ásgeir Þór said.

It’s possible that Friday’s poor weather played a part in the relative quiet of the evening’s festivities, but police believe that there’s another explanation, namely that two years of on-and-off COVID restrictions has actually changed Iceland’s nightlife culture for good.

“It’s possible that after two years, another kind of culture has emerged. I don’t know,” concluded Ásgeir Þór. The police were planning to maintain increased vigilance downtown on Saturday evening, but at time of writing were hopeful that Saturday’s parties would go off without major incident.

Government Approves Pandemic Grants for Bars and Restaurants

bar beer alcohol

Iceland’s government has approved measures in support of restaurant and bar owners that have experienced a loss of income as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, RÚV reports. Owners will soon be able to apply for a so-called “rebound” grant up to a maximum of ISK 10-12 million [$77,900-93,400, €68,500-82,200], Foreign Affairs Minister Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir stated following a cabinet meeting this morning.

“We’re doing this specifically for those parties who have a liquor licence and have experienced a loss of income due to [COVID-19] infection prevention measures,” Þórdís told reporters. Asked whether the grants would be enough to keep bars and restaurants running, the Minister stated that she could not be the judge, but she believed the initiative would make a big difference. The government has also postponed insurance and tax payment deadlines for restaurants in order to ease financial strain on the industry.

The rebound grants are expected to cost the government around ISK 1.5 billion [$116.8 million, €102.7 million]. Þórdís stated that the government was also considering measures in support of freelance and culture workers, other groups that have been hit hard by pandemic restrictions.

Icelandic authorities tightened domestic COVID-19 restrictions last week, closing bars and clubs and extending operational restrictions on restaurants as the country fights its biggest ever wave of COVID-19 infection. Some restaurateurs have criticised the closures and restrictions, pointing to the fact that schools remain open, despite being a source of infection spread. Bragi Skaftason, who operates three restaurants in Reykjavík, has stated that reintroducing partial employment benefits, a pandemic response measure the government has discontinued, would be more helpful to restaurateurs than the government’s current economic response measures.

Majority of Icelanders In Favor of Bars Closing Earlier

bar beer alcohol

The majority of Icelanders are in favor of bars and nightclubs closing earlier—even after COVID restrictions are lifted, Vísir reports. A recent survey conducted by Maskína showed that 63% of respondents were “very in favor” or “moderately in favor” of significantly reduced hours, while only 18% reported being “very opposed” or “moderately opposed” to tighter restrictions.

The opening hours of bars and clubs have fluctuated a lot since March 2020, but even after infections levels dropped recently, there has been some question as to whether permanently reduced hours might be for the better. Under normal circumstances, bars and clubs are permitted to stay open until 4:30 AM on weekends and 1:00 AM on weeknights.

Age had a significant impact on respondents’ feelings on the matter. Only 29.9% of people aged 18-29 were strongly in favor of shorter opening hours, and 18.9% were moderately in favor of it. Perhaps more surprising is that only 8.7% of respondents in this demographic reported being strongly opposed to shortening opening hours.

Partnered status also impacted responses: around 48% of single people support shorter bar and club hours, versus 66% of respondents who cohabitat with a partner.

Multiple Incidents of Drugged Drinks

Police are investigating an incident in which a young woman was believed to have been drugged in a bar in Reykjavík at around midnight on Thursday evening, RÚV reports. The woman was taken to the National and University Hospital for care.

Recently, Suðurnes police issued an advisory urging people not to accept drinks from people they don’t know after some incidents of drugged drinks in Reykjanesbær.

Capital-area police were busy on Thursday night, also reported that there were a number of incidents involving drug and/or alcohol use . Two individuals also had to be taken to the hospital for drug-related reasons.

This article has been updated