Blue Lagoon spa defies eruption fears to reopen in Iceland

Around 230 earthquakes were reported near Reykjanes peninsula overnight while the police alert remains at a dangerous level.

Despite concerns of a potential volcanic eruption, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions, the Blue Lagoon, has reopened after more than a month of closure.

The geothermal spa, located southwest of the capital Reykjavík, was shut down on November 9 following a “seismic swarm” of over 1,000 earthquakes in 24 hours, which led to the evacuation of guests from the resort.

In the days that followed, the nearby town of Grindavík had to evacuate all of its 3,800 residents, leaving many without homes.

Although residents are now allowed to return to their homes between 7am and 9pm, they are still unable to stay overnight or freely explore the town. They are awaiting an update later this week to determine if the evacuation rules will be lifted in time for Christmas.

A resident of Grindavík was reportedly threatened with arrest for breaking the rules and staying at home with his wife for several nights.

The Icelandic Met Office has reported about 230 earthquakes near Grindavík, stating that while the rate of deformation has decreased in recent days, further data is required to understand the possible development of volcanic activity.

The Blue Lagoon management decided to reopen the resort on Sunday, despite ongoing seismic activity and a police alert of a “danger level.” The reopening was done in close collaboration with the authorities. However, the resort’s hotels and one restaurant will remain closed until Thursday.

Helga Árnadóttir, the chief executive of the Blue Lagoon, revealed that some tourists have been canceling their trips to Iceland due to the closure of the lagoon, which prompted the decision to reopen. Measures, including a specific bus service, have been put in place to ensure visitors can arrive at the resort safely.

Residents of Grindavík, such as Sólný Pálsdóttir, do not expect to return permanently to their homes for at least three months, as the earthquakes have caused their homes to slant by 50cm. Many residents are facing housing shortages and frustration over the inability to stay in their homes overnight.

The police chief in Suðurnes, Úlfar Lúðvíksson, stated that the force is waiting for an updated risk assessment from the Norwegian Meteorological Agency on Wednesday before deciding whether to lift the evacuation orders.

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