COVID-19 testing at the border will be free of charge during December and January. The government made the decision based on the suggestion of Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason but he suggested the testing would either be made free of charge or mandatory. Currently, travellers to Iceland have an option of a 14-day quarantine on arrival or undergoing double testing with a 5-day quarantine for the price of 11,000 ISK ($80, €68), 9,000($66, €55) if the register before arrival.
In Þórólfur’s memo to the Minister of Health, he disclosed his worry that the pandemic’s growth abroad might result in an increase of infections domestically if travellers opt for the 14-day quarantine but don’t heed the quarantine rules. He points to the fact that in several cases, suspicion arose that travellers wouldn’t stay in quarantine, e.g. travellers that were only intending to stay for a few days. He suggests either making testing mandatory unless there’s a sound medical reason not to, or making border testing free of charge. During Monday’s information briefing, Þórólfur revealed that in addition to the most common strain of the virus during this wave of the pandemic, two small group infections of a new viral strain had been detected, indicating that infections were slipping past the border testing programme.
Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir had previously stated that she considered enforcing mandatory testing a difficult prospect.
Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir’s decision that border testing is made free of charge will take effect from December 1, 2020, to January 31, 2021.