Good news and bad news: the good news is, for a few days we had a respite from the endless stream of coronavirus-related news. The bad news is, it was because of the white supremacist insurrection at the US Capitol that dominated headlines worldwide. Numerous Icelandic pundits weighed on the events, with Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir calling the riots “an attack on democracy” and political scientist Silja Bára Ómarsdóttir astutely pointing out that they were a symptom of the divisiveness in the United States, which she predicts is not going away any time soon.
Other Icelanders were concerned about a Trump supporter at a Sacramento protest carrying the Icelandic flag, with speculation swirling about whether or not this person is Icelandic. The US embassy has, at the time of this writing, been completely silent on the matter. Reporters would later learn this was because they had been ordered to refer all press inquiries to a tweet by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or an overseas infodesk.
Most entertaining of all has been Icelandic conservatives likening the Capitol riots to the 2008-2009 Pots and Pans Protests. Yes, a bunch of far-right insurgents storming the legislature with the possible intent to kidnap and kill is just like Icelanders of all stripes peacefully demonstrating for the government to resign in the wake of total financial collapse—you literally can’t tell them apart!
Don’t worry, though; the coronavirus is back in the headlines—and most of the news has been quite positive. The rollout of the Pfizer vaccine has been going well and the first shipment of Moderna vaccine arrived on January 12th, with a deal with AstraZeneca expected to be finalised by the end of the month. Health authorities have been prioritising vaccinating the elderly and frontline workers, but it appears as though the vaccine should reach nearly everyone by some time this summer. We say “almost everyone,” because there is still a very small minority of people who have no interest in getting vaccinated.
Lastly, Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir has been asking for public feedback on a special page of her official website. There, people can give a smiley face, a thumbs up, a thumbs down or an angry face in response to her job performance. Those who react positively are thanked, those who react negatively are asked to explain what she can do better. She is, as far as we can tell, the first and only government minister in Iceland to try this.
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