Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, head of Efling, has sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, demanding that information on Covid-19 be brought more reliably to foreign workers in Iceland.

A copy was sent to the Minister of Health, Svandís Svavarsdóttir; Minister of Social Affairs, Ásmundur Einar Daðason; and Minister of Industries and Innovation, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, as well as to the Director of Health, Alma Möller.

Subject: Efling demands improvements in delivery of Covid-19 information to foreign workers.

In fighting Covid-19, correct information and swift reactions are essential. The authorities should ensure that scientific and professional decisions prevail when deciding what people in Iceland should do to ensure their own and other people’s health. The authorities should also ensure that the best possible information on disease prevention and civil protection guidelines is delivered swiftly and reliably to all members of society.

The authorities have in many ways done this well, held regular press meetings and shared information on the homepage of the Director of Health and the civil protection department of the National Police Commissioner, covid.is. However, people who speak a different first language from Icelandic have often had to wait for days for translations on the latest information on the page. At the time of writing, on the morning of August 5, the Polish section has yet to be updated. The Polish guidelines still talk of the period from June 15 through August 31; the ban on gatherings is said to apply to groups of 500 or larger, the 2-metre-rule being optional, and no information is provided on the use of face masks.

People from abroad who live in Iceland number nearly 50,000. They are active participants in Icelandic society and therefore an indispensable link in public disease prevention. I also note that close to 15,000 tourists who speak other languages are staying here at any given time this summer. Many of them stay in places and enjoy the services of foreign labour while travelling the country. The importance of access to multilingual guidelines should be evident.

In light of these facts, Efling demands that the authorities take action to ensure that Covid-19 related information is published more efficiently in other languages on their websites and in other media. We also point out that a good way to achieve better distribution might be to send important information to organizations in contact with people from abroad, such as NGOs and unions.

We can’t all be part of civil protection if the information doesn’t reach us.

Sólveig Anna Jónsdóttir, chairman

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