President of Iceland Sends Condolences to Queen Elizabeth II

The President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has sent his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II on the death of her husband Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh on Twitter, stating that “The people of Iceland have fond memories of HRH Prince Philip’s visits to this country.”

Prince Phillip visited Iceland twice, once on his own in 1964 and again on an official visit with the queen in 1990. In a post on Facebook, President Guðni posted a newspaper article from the 1964 visit, which noted that during his visit to the official presidential residence Bessastaðir, Phillip was interested in the varied birdlife in the area but less pleased with the presence of photographers documenting his visit.

During the four-day visit in 1964, Prince Philip enjoyed “the excitement of salmon fishing on the river Norðurá in the peaceful countryside at Borgarfjörður,” as stated in a 1964 issue of Iceland Review.

Iceland Review. Prince Philip salmon fishing in Norðurá river. 

 

Quarantine Hotels Optional But Free, Latest Border Regulations State

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason

Clearer requirements for home quarantine and no charge-stay at quarantine hotels is among the new restrictions which took effect last midnight. The Chief Epidemiologist has also suggested steeper fines for quarantine violations and increased police surveillance of people who choose to quarantine at home instead of at a quarantine hotel.

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed the district court’s ruling that authorities cannot require people to spend their quarantine at quarantine hotels when arriving in the country. To minimise the risk of infections crossing the borders due to quarantine breakers, the Chief Epidemiologist has suggested changes to the border restrictions. He has stated that the ruling is a disappointment and he fears that the latest measures are less effective than a mandatory stay at quarantine hotels. The minister of Health issued new regulations based on his suggestions which took effect last midnight.

Clearer requirements are made for home quarantine, regarding housing and rules of conduct. Those who are unable to stay in a home quarantine that fulfils the requirements will need to stay at a quarantine facility. However, no fee shall be collected for the stay. The new regulation replaces regulation no. 355/2021 which required individuals from risk zones to stay in quarantine hotels. The District Court of Reykjavík deemed the mandatory stay to have had an insufficient legal basis.

In an information briefing, the Chief Epidemiologist revealed that the three latest group infections caught domestically could all be traced back to quarantine breakers. He has stated that there is a significant risk that infections will be brought to the country unless further measures are introduced at the borders. Adding to the risk is that the pandemic is currently raging in the countries around us and vaccinations are not yet widespread enough to prevent domestic spread. Furthermore, the virus variant currently spreading is the British variant, which is more contagious and seems to cause more serious illness in younger demographics.

Below are the government’s latest border restrictions:

The main rules on quarantine and testing at the borders as from the 9th of April

The same rules apply to all passengers irrespective of from where they are travelling: Measures to contain the spread of infections at the borders apply equally to all passengers coming from countries identified as risk zones by the Chief Epidemiologist.

Testing and quarantine: Everyone arriving to the country shall be tested at the borders as before, quarantine for five days and undergo a second test upon finishing (see below special requirements that apply to children and individuals carrying certificates of vaccination or prior infection). People are allowed to quarantine at home if certain requirements are fulfilled. Those who cannot quarantine at home and/or prefer to stay at a quarantine facility may stay there without charge.

Requirements for home quarantine: Those quarantining at home need to stay in a facility that fulfils the conditions and rules of conduct provided for in the new instructions issued by the Chief Epidemiologist. These include that the individual shall be isolated at the place of stay and if more individuals reside at the same location they are subject to the same requirements that apply to quarantine. Those who are unable to stay in a home quarantine that fulfils the requirements shall stay at a quarantine facility.

Breach of home quarantine: Where an individual is found in breach of home quarantine the Chief Epidemiologist may decide that the quarantine shall be concluded at a quarantine facility.

Quarantine facility: Those who cannot quarantine at home and/or prefer to stay at a quarantine facility may dwell there. The stay is free of charge. Those staying at a quarantine facility will be enabled to undertake outdoor activities and special consideration will be given to children in relation to outdoor activities and other conditions.

Testing and quarantine of children: Children born in 2005 or later shall be tested at the borders. A child who travels with an individual who is subject to stay in quarantine shall stay with that person and can leave the quarantine if the second test of its co-traveller is negative. When the co-traveller is not required to stay in quarantine the same shall apply to the child. A child travelling alone is not required to stay in quarantine.

Testing of individuals carrying a certificate: The requirement of testing individuals carrying a vaccination certificate, or a certificate of prior infection is adopted due to indications that those individuals can pass on infections. They are not required to stay in quarantine but shall wait for the result of the test at their place of stay. The requirement is temporary and will be reviewed before the 1st of May.

Increased surveillance and higher fines: The Chief Epidemiologist proposes increased surveillance of individuals in-home quarantine in cooperation with the Police’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and a significant increase of fines for breaching home quarantine. The Minister of Health has forwarded the proposals to the Public Prosecutor and the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police.

Health Minister Presents Bill To Regulate Nicotine Pouch Sales

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir

Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir has presented a bill to Parliament, suggesting that legislation on vaping will also cover nicotine products such as nicotine pouches. If the bill is passed, only people over the age of 18 will be able to purchase the nicotine pouches and producers won’t be able to advertise their product or decorate the packaging in a way that attracts children or teenagers.

The report accompanying the bill states that no legislation currently covers the use and distribution of nicotine pouches, even though they can contain a considerable amount of nicotine, which is classified as an addictive substance. The report also states that both importers and resellers have called for the products to be regulated, and as tobacco-free nicotine products have already made their mark on the Icelandic market, it’s important that the rules are clear. “Children have been known to use the products, which can be toxic if the amount of nicotine is high, making it important to secure the health and safety of children with clear regulation on the marketing and sale of such products,” the bill states.

The bill suggests that the sale of nicotine pouches in schools or other places meant for children’s sport or leisure will be forbidden as well as in healthcare institutions. Advertising the nicotine products or showing their consumption in advertisements will also be forbidden and they won’t be displayed for customers at stores where they are sold, although the bill proposes an exemption from the visibility ban for speciality stores selling nicotine pouches. Such an exemption is already in effect for vape shops. The bill further suggests that the nicotine pouch sales will be subject to the Icelandic Housing Authority and the number of products sold will have to be disclosed annually to the Directorate of Health. The Consumer Agency and the Icelandic Media Commission will monitor infractions of advertisement bans.