Majority of Icelanders Not Planning to Travel Abroad this Year

Just over a third of Icelanders plan to go on holiday abroad this year or have already done so. This was among the findings of a recent survey conducted by Prósent on behalf of Fréttablaðið.

Although 28.2% of Icelanders have plans to go abroad later this year, only 7% have actually done so already. A far greater majority—57.9%—said that they were not going to travel abroad and 9% said they didn’t know.

People in the highest income brackets are the most likely to travel abroad, as are capital-area residents. Looking just at residence: 45% of capital residents have gone or are going abroad this year, versus 29% of those who live in the countryside. Otherwise, the distribution among various social groups is fairly even. Age does play a factor: Icelanders aged 24 – 44 are the least likely to travel abroad.

The survey was conducted from July 15 – 23, just around the time that the COVID-19 infection rate began to increase again. According to Þráinn Vigfússon, who works at the travel company Vita, bookings for trips abroad during the upcoming Merchant’s Weekend ground to a halt after outdoor festivals within Iceland were canceled or postponed due to stricter gathering limits.

The current infection level in Iceland means that the country will be red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s country map next week, regardless of how many infections are diagnosed within the coming days. This may have affected Icelanders’ plans to travel abroad, as well as the answers of survey respondents.

The survey had 2,600 respondents, aged 18 and older, and answers were organized according to gender, age, and place of residence. The response rate was 52%.

Travellers Without Negative COVID Test Could Face Fine

Keflavík Airport

Travellers arriving in Iceland must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test. RÚV reports that this requirement applies to both Icelanders and foreign nationals, regardless of vaccination status. Those who cannot produce proof of a negative COVID test taken could face a fine of up to ISK 100,000 [$810; €682] upon arrival in the country.

The imposition of fines follows in the wake of new governmental regulations issued earlier this month, which require airlines to inspect COVID test and vaccination certificates prior to boarding for all international flights.

Per the government’s website, as of July 27, all passengers—including vaccinated individuals and those who can furnish proof of a prior COVID-19 infection—”must present a negative PCR or antigen (rapid) test that is no more than 72 hours old before departure to Iceland.”

Woman Arrested for Disturbing the Peace at a Vaccination Site for Pregnant Women

More than 400 pregnant women attended a group vaccination at a site on Suðurlandsbraut in Reykjavík on Thursday when a small, but vigorous protest began, RÚV reports. One woman was arrested for creating a public disturbance.

The vaccinations began at 9:00 AM and continued until the afternoon. The women were organized into small groups according to their birth months, with those born in January and February first to be vaccinated.

The orderly scene was disrupted around 10:00 AM, however, when two women began an extremely vocal protest at the site. One of the women began screaming and became increasingly agitated. She said, among other things, that the vaccine was poison and called pandemic authorities murderers.

“There were two women here who had a different point of view than we do here,” said Margrét Héðinsdóttir, a nurse and vaccination project manager who tried to calm the woman down before police arrived. “She was concerned about the vaccines. But this isn’t the place to protest the decisions of the pandemic authorities. So we had to call the police to help us deal with the issue.”

Police stayed on site until later in the day.

Cycling Race a Rare Opportunity for Riders

More than 100 cyclists took part in a socially distanced group ride on Thursday from Siglufjörður to Akureyri in North Iceland, RÚV reports. The event was part of the Akureyri Cycling Festival, which started last Saturday and will end on Sunday.

Competitors were organized into different race groups according to distance, the shortest of which, for adults, was 78 km [48 mi] and the longest of which was 102.8 km [639 mi]. The longest route took cyclists through the Héðinsfjörður and Múlagöng tunnels. And although climate conditions aren’t ideal in the tunnels, festival chair Árni F. Sigurðsson admits, being able to cycle through them is a unique opportunity. “It’s humid and cool,” he said, “and Múlagöng tunnel is one-way and very narrow, which makes it a bit of a struggle. But there’s no other opportunity to bike a route like that in a competition.”

Árni said that some people withdrew from the race because of the current rise in COVID infections, but assured that organizers were conscientious about safety measures. Riders were split into smaller groups, some of which never had reason to cross paths with one another. The award competition was also split between two locations and top prizes were given out before all competitors finished the race. “We gave [winners the awards] right away so that people wouldn’t gather together and wait.”

This is the fifth or sixth time the Akureyri Cycling Festival has been held, said Árni, and he encouraged people to take a look at the remaining schedule of events (here) as all events are open to the public spectators and take place outside over a large area, in compliance with current COVID guidelines.