Islands prepare for big weekend despite no festival

28.07.2020 - 16:57
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While there will be no Þjóðhátíð festival this weekend, the Vestmannaeyjar community is preparing for a lot of visitors. There is a waiting list for spaces on the Herjólfur ferry. In the meantime, national authorities are this afternoon discussing whether to re-impose harsher coronavirus restrictions amid the spate of new infections over recent days.

The Vestmannaeyjar town council today green-lighted applications from a number of establishments wanting to sell alcohol outdoors this coming Verslunarmannhelgi holiday weekend, as well as giving permission for a bonfire, fireworks display, and a dance party on Saturday night. 

Permission for the party was applied for by Stöð 2 sports journalist Svava Kristín Grétarsdóttir and the event is scheduled from 23.00 on Saturday until 03.00 Sunday morning. No alcohol will be for sale, as all licenced premises in Iceland have to close by 23.00 under COVID-19 restrictions. “We’re still waiting for an answer from the public health authority and nobody is going to profit from this. All proceeds go to ÍBV (sports club),” Svava told RÚV this afternoon. 

The council approved the application on the conditions that the dance happens in cooperation with the district commissioner and with licencing from appropriate authorities. 

Several bars and pubs in the town have been given permission to sell alcohol outdoors over the long weekend. Again, the council made its approval contingent on collaboration with other authorities, such as the public health directorate. 

There will be a bonfire and fireworks display at midnight on Friday night. 

Arndís Bára Ingimarsdóttir, acting Vestmannaeyjar police chief, told RÚV this lunchtime that there will be a significant police presence over the weekend; not least because there is a waiting list for places on board Herjólfur. The ferry can transport up to 3,000 people a day. 

Civil protection authorities are meeting with government ministers this afternoon to discuss whether or not existing measures are sufficient in the fight against the coronavirus. With 24 active cases currently in the country, authorities may decide to change the national state of alert and/or introduce tougher measures domestically and at border posts. 

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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