From Iceland — Icelandic Government Passes 26 Billion ISK COVID-19 Action Package

Icelandic Government Passes 26 Billion ISK COVID-19 Action Package

Published March 31, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Last night, the Icelandic Parliament approved an investment programme costing almost 26 billion ISK designed to tackle the COVID-19 epidemic and its expected impacts on Icelandic society, Fréttablaðið reports. The Al­þingi passed five bills concerning COVID-19 and a supplementary budget was introduced to cover the new initiatives.

Some of the headline measures include over 3 billion ISK for child benefit payments and a 3 billion ISK investment in tourism. Funds have also been set aside for investment in industry and infrastructure. For example, the Minister for the Environment will be given 50 million ISK to promote climate science innovation and the Infrastructure and Technology Development Fund will be increased by 1.4 billion ISK.

Landspítali and Akureyri hospitals have been allocated 350 million ISK between them and there will be a 400 million ISK investment in COVID-19 testing. Mental health work has also been addressed in the package—140 million ISK has been allocated to work tackling mental health issues and homelessness and 40 million ISK will go towards supporting people experiencing loneliness and anxiety during the outbreak.

A wide range of payments to the Al­þingi will also be temporarily halted or postponed, including the overnight stay tourist tax and social security contributions.

The Treasury has been authorised to borrow an additional 95 billion ISK from foreign countries.

The opposition had wanted to spend a further 4.6 billion ISK, but the amendment was rejected last night.

To read more about the bills passed last night visit the Al­þingi‘s website.

As ever, those looking for more information or advice should go to the Icelandic Government’s excellent COVID-19 help page.

Tune into our daily COVID-Cast for a deeper dive into the day’s developments.

Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.

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