From Iceland — Threats Sent To Key Icelandic COVID-19 Officials

Threats Sent To Key Icelandic COVID-19 Officials

Published April 7, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Threats of violence were recently made against Víðir Reynisson, the Chief of Police, Alma Möller, the Surgeon General and Þórólfur Gudnason, Head of Epidemiology. The police have stepped up security provisions for the trio in response.

Yesterday, Víðir confirmed that he, Alma and Þórólfur had received messages including threats of violence recently, Visir reports. Little is known about the nature or timing of the threats at the time of writing and it police are yet to confirm whether the perpetrator has been located. Víðir, Alma, and Þórólfur have become the faces of the COVID-19 response in Iceland, largely due to their daily appearances at press briefings. They are responsible for directing the operations of the Civil Defence Department and the Health Authorities during the crisis.

Víðir assured reporters that the messages will have had no effect on his or his colleagues’ work. The Capital area police force has been notified of the threats and has put measures in place to ensure the safety of the trio. Víðir declined to disclose the nature of the precautions, but stated that they were following the police’s advice. “We are just going to [continue to] deal with [the outbreak] as we have been doing and work with professionals so [the threats] don’t bother us,” he explained in a remarkably unflustered tone.

Disagreement with the three officials’ handling of the epidemic in Iceland was likely to have been the motivation for the threats, according to Víðir. He suggested that the author of the threats wanted to express “different views” on the COVID-19 situation, but “they didn’t do [so] politely.” If this is the case, the person behind the messages is in a very small minority of Icelanders who do not support Víðir, Alma and Þórólfur. Yesterday results of a Gallup survey revealed that 96% of the population have confidence in the Civil Defence and Health Authorities.

Readers can rest assured that the police are doing all they can to protect Víðir, Alma and Þórólfur, Iceland’s holy trinity in the coronavirus era. Hopefully, the author of the threatening messages will be located by law enforcement in coming days.

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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