It's Official: Despite Popular Support, Iceland Will Not Be Changing Its Local Time

It’s Official: Despite Popular Support, Iceland Will Not Be Changing Its Local Time

Published September 1, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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An announcement posted by the government offices of Iceland states that Iceland will not be changing its clocks—despite popular support for the measure and the fact that Iceland is in the wrong time zone.

Many people might find it odd that Iceland is in GMT, but it’s been there since 1968. Just a casual glance at Iceland’s position on a time zone map shows how peculiar its placement looks:

As such, even though it can be noon in London and Reykjavík at the same time, the sun’s position is at its highest point in Iceland at approximately 13:00 GMT—in the most westerly regions, its highest position appears even later.

After much debate in Parliament, a workgroup was assembled under the auspices of the Ministry of Health. In 2018, the Ministry came to the conclusion that Iceland’s strange position on the timezone map actually affected peoples’ health—most notably, these effects include the increased chance of disease, worse schooling results, increased depression and tiredness. The matter was then submitted to the Prime Minister’s office for review.

The Prime Minister’s office decided to consider three possible options: setting the clocks back an hour, launching an educational campaign encouraging people to go to bed earlier, or having schools and businesses open an hour later.

In terms of public opinion, throughout last year, most Icelanders who had an opinion on the matter favoured setting the clocks back one hour.

Despite this, the Prime Minister’s office determined that there was not enough compelling evidence to justify setting the clocks back one hour. On the contrary, they calculated that daylight hours would decrease by 13% over the course of a year if the clocks were changed.

As such, Iceland will remain in its strange time zone, at least for the time being. Whether either the educational campaign, or opening schools and businesses an hour later, will go into effect still remains to be seen.

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