Boy do we have a surprise for you: the big story this past month has been the coronavirus pandemic. A big shock, we know. It’s been quite the rollercoaster since October 19th, when Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced that all mask requirements were being lifted, the social gathering limit was being raised to 2,000 people, and that all domestic restrictions would be lifted in four weeks’ time. The coronavirus apparently took this personally, as daily domestic cases began to rise rapidly. We got put back in the “red zone” on the EDC’s map of Europe, hospitals began to swell, and we reached daily infection rates we hadn’t seen since August. Chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason expressed concerns that we may need to re-think this whole “no domestic restrictions” thing, and even Svandís is starting to have her doubts. Stay tuned—there may be new domestic restrictions on the horizon.
October ended in style as a fin whale beached itself in South Iceland. Whales beach themselves all the time in Iceland—in fact, 83 whales of different species have beached themselves on our shores so far this year—but this was a special case. First of all, because fin whales are enormous. Second, because it happened to wash up just a stone’s throw from a golf course near Ölfus, making it trivially easy for people to visit the carcass. Free parking included! The dead whale proved so popular an attraction that the municipality of Ölfus issued a statement October 29th encouraging people to go see the whale before its planned burial in the first week of November. And check it out they did, as the Grapevine discovered when we paid a visit ourselves, as at least two dozen people had brought their children to witness the unfortunate creature.
Remember the elections? Well, we still don’t have a new government. “But hang on, that was five whole weeks ago,” you say? Indeed it was, but keep two things in mind: it takes a while for three different parties to hammer out a joint platform, even if they’ve spent the past four years working together, and also, the Northwest District’s handling of the ballot count is still being investigated by parliamentary committee and wow, do the hits keep coming in that case. Many of the ballots were left unsealed after the count, left unattended in open boxes, counting may have begun before the polls were even closed, and in some cases, perfectly valid ballots were discovered in bins reserved for blank ballots. As this could mean a second recount, or even new elections, the new government is currently on hold.
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