Starting this week, all persons arriving in Iceland will be required to undergo two COVID-19 screenings. Previously, the five-day quarantine and double testing requirement only applied to residents of Iceland, people visiting the country for an extended period of time, and nonresidents with a strong social network within the country. Now, the quarantine and testing rules apply to everyone, no matter where they are arriving from or how long they will be staying in Iceland. The changes will go into effect on August 19.
The changes in screening policy were announced by Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir at a press conference on Friday and are being made in light of the advancement of COVID-19 both abroad and within Iceland. “The frequency of COVID-19 infection is increasing in neighbouring countries and all over the world,” reads the press release on the government’s website. “We are still grappling with a group infection that has cropped up here in Iceland without knowing how this strain of the virus made its way here.”
“We’re not promising a virus-free society,” Katrín remarked. “We see that no one can make that promise. But we’re trying to minimize the risk here in Iceland such that disruptions are as negligible as possible.”
The first COVID-19 test will be taken at the border; the second will be taken at a local testing centre four to five days after arrival. In the interim, those waiting for their second test will be subject to quarantine, the rules of which have been tightened considerably.
One of the biggest changes in the new screening policy is that no one will be exempt from screening at the border, not even those from countries that were formerly considered “safe.” The reason for this change is that even these countries are seeing a rise in incidences of COVID-19 infection and it has proven difficult for authorities to confirm that travellers arriving from “safe” countries have, in fact, been there for 14 consecutive days before travelling to Iceland.
Rules on pre-registration for travel to Iceland are also being tightened to ensure that authorities and contact tracers have all the information about an individual’s travel plans before they arrive.