All Vaccinated Passengers with “Connections to Iceland” to be Screened

Icelandair airplane

Beginning on August 16, all vaccinated passengers with connections to Iceland will be required to undergo screening within 48 hours of arriving in the country.

On the advice of the Chief Epidemiologist

Following a cabinet meeting this morning, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced that beginning on August 16 the government will require all vaccinated passengers with “connections to Iceland” to undergo screening for COVID-19 within 48 hours of arriving in the country.

“On the advice of the Chief Epidemiologist, we will begin screening vaccinated passengers who are connected to Iceland upon their arrival,” Katrín stated in an interview with RÚV. “This means that not only those individuals who have an Icelandic ID number will be screened – as per the Chief Epidemiologist’s recommendation – but also those who have connections to Iceland.”

According to the government’s website, the latter group is defined as follows:

  • Icelandic citizens
  • Icelandic residents
  • Individuals with an Icelandic work permit
  • Work-permit applicants and those who have applied for international protection in Iceland

These individuals will be required to undergo either PCR or antigen (rapid) testing within 48 hours of arriving in the country but will not be required to self isolate as they wait for their results. The authorities will be reviewing how best to implement these measures over the next ten days.

“This wave is different”

Over the past few days, the government has also met with representatives from various trade organisations and institutions to discuss the effects of the pandemic on schooling, healthcare, culture, and sports.

Speaking to RÚV this afternoon, PM Katrín Jakobsdótter emphasised the success of the vaccination campaign in protecting against grave illness, while adding that the authorities must thoroughly review the capability of the healthcare system to contend with this newest iteration of the pandemic.

“It’s obvious that this wave of the pandemic differs from previous ones, given that we’ve got numerous new infections but fewer instances of serious illness, which is more common among the unvaccinated,” Katrín stated. According to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health has introduced proposals on how best to ensure the effectiveness of the healthcare system during this new phase of the pandemic.

Booster shots imminent

In addition to the above measures, the government has also reviewed its vaccination policy, hoping to better reach those individuals who turned down jabs. Furthermore, the authorities to expedite the process of administering booster shots to recipients of the Jansen vaccine and have decided to offer individuals in retirement homes and those who suffer from underlying medical conditions booster shots, as well.

No decision, however, has been made whether to tighten domestic restrictions nor what kind of measures will be adopted on August 13, when the current restrictions lapse. Vaccinated passengers (and those with a prior infection) born in 2004 or earlier, will still be required to present a negative PCR or antigen test (not older than 72 hours) prior to boarding a vessel to Iceland.

One Violation of Official COVID-19 Measures Per Day

Police officers in masks

Since the government’s current social restrictions took effect on July 25 and until August 4, eleven violations of official measures against COVID-19 have been registered with the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police, Mbl reports. This amounts to an average of one violation per day for this fourth wave of the pandemic.

Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases

From the onset of the COVID pandemic in Iceland – on March 1, 2020 – a total of 392 violations of the Act on Health Security and Communicable Diseases have been registered with the Icelandic police.

These violations include the flouting of mask mandates; the contravention of public-gathering limits; the violation of the one or two-metre rule respectively; the operation of bars, clubs, coffeehouses, or restaurants beyond lawful limits; and the disregarding of mandatory quarantine or self-isolation.

Fines issued to 22% of violators

Individuals who violated COVID-19 quarantine or self-isolation regulations accounted for 38% of the registered offences since March of last year, amounting to a total of 147 infractions, while 62% of the violations involved companies, restaurants, bars, etc. exceeding the limit for public gathering (totaling 245 infractions).

Of the 392 violations that have been registered with the police, 119 cases, or 22%, are currently being processed for fines; 35% of the violations are still being investigated; and 43% were not deemed serious enough to warrant fines.

Cases are considered in the “fine-process” if the police has decided to issue a fine, although cases may be in different stages of processing: the fine may have already been issued, may have already been received by the offender, or may have already been paid. 349 individuals and 64 companies are being fined and, in some instances, for more than one violation.

Over 100 new infections yesterday

103 new COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday, which is a third fewer than on the day previous (a record 154 new cases were registered on July 30). 3,41% of those individuals who were screened yesterday tested positive.

Increased Volcanic Activity in Fagridalur Last Night

Fagradalsfjall

Following a three-day hiatus, the Fagradalsfjall eruption intensified again last night, RÚV reports. The eruption, which began on March 19, has now been ongoing for over four months, with over 200,000 people having visited the site of the eruption since then.

Intermittent activity

Volcanic activity in Fagridalur died down Monday, with hardly any lava flowing from the caldera. On the night before Thursday, however, the activity began to increase slightly, with subtle embers being visible through the haze and the dusk. As Thursday progressed, the activity began to intensify, and during the eleventh hour last night – any doubts over the eruption’s continuation were definitively removed.

As noted in a post shared by the Facebook group Eldfjalla- og náttúruváhópur Suðurlands (The Volcano and Natural Hazard Group for South Iceland), the lava has mainly flowed east into Meradalur valley over the past few weeks but may now be beginning to stream along new paths. This slight change in direction may be due to the fact that part of the crater rim collapsed last night.

It’s difficult to assess the current state of the eruption as of this morning, in light of the conditions.