From Iceland — Avalanches, Epidemics, Bankruptcy And Music Awards

Avalanches, Epidemics, Bankruptcy And Music Awards

Published February 7, 2020

Sam O'Donnell
Photo by
Art Bicnick

January has been, for lack of a better term, insane. The month kicked off with a series of extreme weather events. First, massive piles of snow kept us inside. Then, an avalanche hit Flateyri, breaking records and destroying homes. Later, at the end of the month, another avalanche occurred north of Reykjavík at Móskarðshnúkar. One person died in the aftermath.

Then news of the coronavirus broke, scaring everyone in the world. It hasn’t come to Iceland (yet) but that hasn’t stopped people from freaking out. The Directorate of Health issued a list of frequently asked questions designed to allay the concerns of people worried about contracting the disease. Bear in mind that at this point you are more likely to die of influenza than coronavirus. That said, you should still cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wash your hands. That’s good manners.

A large percentage of workers in the Efling union have voted to strike. Approximately 1,800 people who work for the City of Reykjavík belong to the union, including 1,000 playschool workers and 710 caregivers. The union believes that the workers are long overdue for a wage correction. Unfortunately, negotiations with the city have broken down completely, and at the time of writing, the workers are still striking.

In business news, Cintamani has gone bankrupt. The outdoor apparel outlet has operated in Iceland since 1989, originally from a small shop in Akureyri. Since then, they have grown to be a direct competitor to 66° North. Recently, however, times have apparently been difficult, and the once giant outdoor apparel line has gone bust.

Along with Cintamani, Bíó Paradís has announced that they can no longer afford to keep their doors open. The cultural institution has fallen victim to the most notorious symptoms of late-stage capitalism: the rent is too damn high. The indie theatre is set to close in three months, unless a bunch of meddling kids step in and hatch a plan to save the cinema. Read more about it here.

In lighter news, awards season has been kind to Iceland. Let’s be real, though; Iceland deserves it. Between Hildur Guðnadóttir taking home a Grammy, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA, Cell7 and Countess Malaise being nominated for Album of the Year by the Hyundai Nordic Music Prize, and many Icelandic artists going on global tour, it’s been a great year for music in this country, and it’s only January.

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