Public health insurance will cover the cost of rapid antigen tests as of September 20, including those required by private organisations such as concert venues. The aim is to increase the public’s access to rapid antigen tests and enable more parties to offer testing free of charge. Current domestic COVID regulations allow events of up to 1,500 guests provided attendees undergo rapid testing. Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told Fréttablaðið that rapid tests could be the key to a more open society in the coming weeks.
When the pandemic began, Icelandic health authorities at first used exclusively PCR tests to screen for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Rapid antigen tests were approved for use much later and have only come into general use in recent weeks for border testing and for individuals who are not required to quarantine but may have been exposed to the virus.
In support of culture
New domestic regulations came into effect on September 15, raising the general gathering limit from 200 to 500 people. Events with up to 1,500 guests are permitted if all guests supply negative rapid test results. “In order for the introduction of rapid tests to serve its purpose of increasing people’s opportunities to attend a variety of events and pursue cultural activities, it is important to have easy access to rapid tests and that their cost is not cumbersome,” a government notice states.
The capital area healthcare service has offered rapid testing at Suðurlandsbraut 34 in Reykjavík, and other public healthcare centres offer rapid testing in various regions of the country. Private providers currently offer rapid tests at BSÍ, Kringlan, and Kleppsmýrarvegur in Reykjavík; Aðalgata 60 in Reykjanesbær; and the University of Akureyri in North Iceland.
The regulation comes into effect on September 20 and is valid until the end of this year.