Quarantine Hotels Optional But Free, Latest Border Regulations State Skip to content

Quarantine Hotels Optional But Free, Latest Border Regulations State

By Gréta Sigríður Einarsdóttir

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason
Photo: Golli.

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.

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