Can I travel to Iceland in 2022 Post COVID-19?

Landmannalaugar tourist

On February 25, 2022, Iceland’s government lifted all COVID-19 prevention measures at the border, regardless of vaccination status. Travellers are no longer required to register prior to boarding, get tested prior to or after arrival, or quarantine. 

This article will be updated in case of change.

Government’s Quick Guide for Travellers

Individual infection prevention encouraged

While the government no longer requires people to keep a social distance, wear masks or get tested, people are still encouraged to practice personal infection prevention measures, such as washing their hands regularly, keeping a distance from unrelated parties and wearing masks in crowded places.

If Illness Arises

Those travelling from abroad who have cold-like symptoms should contact the health line +354 544 4113 and must do so before going to hospitals or clinics.

Free rapid tests are available at the country’s healthcare clinics but people are no longer required to confirm the results of a positive rapid test with a PCR test. 

While isolation is no longer required, people who test positive for COVID-19 and present symptoms are still encouraged to keep to themselves for at least five days after the diagnosis. Asymptomatic people are asked to take special precautions such as wearing masks at all times and keeping a safe distance from others. 

Travellers are encouraged to monitor news and Iceland’s official COVID-19 website prior to and during their trip.

This article will be updated regularly.

Read more about restrictions within Iceland.

Travellers Without Negative COVID Test Could Face Fine

Keflavík Airport

Travellers arriving in Iceland must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test. RÚV reports that this requirement applies to both Icelanders and foreign nationals, regardless of vaccination status. Those who cannot produce proof of a negative COVID test taken could face a fine of up to ISK 100,000 [$810; €682] upon arrival in the country.

The imposition of fines follows in the wake of new governmental regulations issued earlier this month, which require airlines to inspect COVID test and vaccination certificates prior to boarding for all international flights.

Per the government’s website, as of July 27, all passengers—including vaccinated individuals and those who can furnish proof of a prior COVID-19 infection—”must present a negative PCR or antigen (rapid) test that is no more than 72 hours old before departure to Iceland.”

Vaccinated People with Symptoms Should Get Tested, Says Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason

If you have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19 you should get tested, even if you are fully vaccinated, says Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist. Four fully vaccinated tourists tested positive for COVID-19 in Iceland between Thursday and Monday. So far there is no evidence the infections have spread to others.

Many tourists go get tested for COVID-19 toward the end of their trip in Iceland due to entry requirements in other countries. Four such tests revealed positive results for four vaccinated tourists in recent days. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told RÚV it is unlikely that the tourists infected others. He added that vaccinated individuals are also less likely to spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus when carrying it. “It is most likely that they were infected on their way to [Iceland] and I base that on the fact that we have almost no virus in the country,” Þórólfur stated.

Iceland currently has 23 active cases of COVID-19 and an incidence rate of 1.9 per 100,000 residents. Over 70% of the population has received one or both doses of COVID-19 vaccine while 49.1% are fully vaccinated. All domestic restrictions were lifted in the country last Friday though restrictions at the border remain, including testing of all arriving travellers and mandatory quarantine for those without vaccine or antibody certificates.

Þórólfur stressed the importance of continued testing within Iceland, despite the country’s high rate of vaccination. “We need to encourage people with symptoms to get tested. That’s declined quite a bit recently but I know there are a lot of respiratory infections in the community. So we still want to encourage people to go get tested whether they are vaccinated or not if they get symptoms that could point to COVID-19.”

COVID-19 in Iceland: Widespread Testing to Determine Scope of Virus Spread

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller

Iceland’s health authorities will conduct both targeted and randomized SARS-CoV-2 testing in the coming days to help establish how far the virus has spread in the community. The results of the testing will determine whether harsher restrictions are necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19. Iceland reported a spike in cases over the weekend linked to two group infections, which can be traced to individuals breaking traveller quarantine.

Iceland reported 27 new domestic cases of COVID-19 yesterday, most connected to a group outbreak at a Reykjavík preschool. Authorities stressed the importance of getting tested immediately when experiencing even the mildest symptoms that could point to COVID-19 and staying home until a negative result is received. Symptoms of COVID-19 can be very mild and can include fever, fatigue, cough, muscle aches, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sudden changes to sense of taste or smell.

The following is a lightly-edited transcription of Iceland Review’s live-tweeting of today’s COVID-19 briefing.

 

Stay tuned for a live-tweeting of Icelandic authorities’ COVID-19 information briefing, beginning shortly at 11.03am. On the panel: Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason, Director of Health Alma Möller, and Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson.

Numbers have been updated on covid.is. Iceland reported 27 new domestic cases yesterday (just 2 out of quarantine) and 2 at the border. Total active cases: 97; 3 in hospital. 29,686 have been fully vaccinated, 8% of the population. Most of yesterday’s cases are connected to a group outbreak at Jörfi preschool in Reykjavík, according to a representative of the Civil Protection Department.

The briefing has begun. Víðir says authorities are tracing the group outbreaks that are ongoing. He encourages the public to not judge everyone based on the actions of a few, although those actions have had consequences.

Þórólfur goes over the numbers. Several people tested positive over the weekend in two group infections, one linked to a preschool in Reykjavík. Both group infections can be traced back to people breaking quarantine and going to work while experiencing flu-like symptoms. Many people were tested yesterday and even more will be tested today but the situation shows that just one infection can set off a wave of new infections if people aren’t vigilant.

Þórólfur: These group outbreaks show the importance of going to get tested when experiencing even the slightest symptoms. Go and get tested if experiencing even the mildest symptoms and stay at home until you receive your results. Both group infections involve the British variant of the virus. At the moment, it’s not clear if we need to tighten restrictions but Þórolfur reminds the public that the infections we’re discovering now occurred before changes were made to border restrictions.

Authorities are conducting broad testing to determine the spread of the virus including randomised testing to see if the virus has spread further into the community. The results of these tests will help determine if tighter restrictions are needed.

Vaccinations continue this week: 10,000-15,000 are scheduled to receive a dose this week. The AstraZeneca vaccine will continue to be used for people over the age of 60.

Þórólfur urges the public to keep up their personal infection prevention practices and get tested as soon as they experience even the slightest symptoms. Alma takes over, calling the development of cases over the weekend “a disappointment. We can’t let this get us down, instead let’s focus on what we need to do and what we need to do better.”

She repeats Þórólfur’s statement about people needing to get tested when experiencing even the slightest symptoms and goes over the list of possible symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms can include fever, cough, muscle aches, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sudden changes to sense of taste or smell. Some people can experience very mild symptoms. Alma reminds people to stay at home after the test until they receive their result. The easiest way to book tests is online at heilsuvera.is but you can also contact your local healthcare clinic or call 1700.

We’re still learning about this British variant, says Alma, and healthcare authorities have a feeling, albeit unconfirmed, that the British variant isn’t detectable as early as the other variants we’ve seen here. This hypothesis is based on the data that shows more people are now testing positive in the second border test than the first one.

Companies should be ready to support people who need to stay out of the workplace due to symptoms. While the majority of people testing positive yesterday were in quarantine, most of them hadn’t been quarantined for long so there’s a possibility that they infected others before going into quarantine.

The panel takes questions. Þórólfur is asked about the need for requiring travellers to quarantine in government-run hotels. Þórólfur states that the quarantine regulation infractions occurred before the increased surveillance of home quarantines began. Þórólfur still believes, however, that requiring people to quarantine in quarantine hotels would have minimised the risk of people breaking quarantine. Capital Area Police are looking into the case of the person who broke quarantine, Víðir does not have information on if they will be charged.

Police are not yet making home visits to people in quarantine but they’re making more calls and there’s a “low threshold” for police reaction if there’s the slightest indication that people are breaking quarantine. There are ongoing legal procedures to verify the legality of home visits to enforce quarantines and the police want to be extra sure there is a legal basis for making home visits.

Teachers will be vaccinated around the start of next month and preschool teachers will likely take precedence as preschools are strategically important for keeping society running. Authorities reacted as soon as they learned of the quarantine breaker but the disease doesn’t reveal itself until a week or two has passed since the infection, making it hard to suppress. At this point, we don’t know how the future with the virus looks. We might have to vaccinate annually but we don’t know at this point.

Asked if the quarantine period between border tests is too short, Þórólfur states that the cases of people testing positive after two negative border tests are so rare that it’s not necessary to start thinking about changing border procedure (for ex. requiring longer quarantine). 70% of those who test positive upon arrival from abroad have presented a negative PCR test certificate before departure.

Víðir ends the meeting by stressing the importance of getting tested if you’re feeling even slightly different from normal. When experiencing the slightest symptoms, such as an upset stomach, dry throat, unusual fatigue, or headache: get tested. Víðir: “Let’s not relax now.” The briefing has ended.

 

Iceland Review will live-tweet authorities’ next COVID-19 briefing here.

Customers of “The Icelandic Bar” from April 9 Invited for COVID-19 Testing

Íslenski barinn the Icelandic Bar

All customers of the Icelandic Bar on Ingólfsstræti in Reykjavík on April 9 have been invited to undergo a COVID-19 test. A COVID-positive individual went to the bar on that day. Bar guests do not have to go into quarantine but are asked to keep to themselves until they receive their test results.

Over 20 people tested positive yesterday, a spike compared to case numbers in recent days. Most of the cases are linked to a group outbreak at a Reykjavík preschool. It has yet to be confirmed how many of the cases were in quarantine at the time of diagnosis.

Icelandic health authorities will hold a COVID-19 briefing at 11.03am UTC today, which Iceland Review will live-tweet here.

Police Hope to Train Corona Dogs in Iceland

The Chief of Police in Northwest Iceland hopes to bring specially trained COVID sniffer dogs to the country, RÚV reports. Police in Iceland have been in regular contact with organizations in the UK that train dogs and are investigating whether they can be trained to sniff out the coronavirus on individuals. Preliminary findings show that the dogs are able to detect positive COVID-19 samples with about 90% accuracy and only this week, so-called ‘corona dogs’ started working as part of a pilot project at the Helsinki airport.

Per The New York Times, COVID test-by-dog seems far less uncomfortable than the nose swab method: travellers in Helsinki, for instance, are having their sweat tested. First, they wipe their necks, then drop the sample into a container, and pass it to a corona dog’s handler, who allows the dog to sniff it alongside other containers with different scents. The dogs are able to detect coronavirus-positive samples in roughly ten seconds; the whole process takes less than a minute. According to Finnish researchers, the dogs have also been successful detecting the virus in asymptomatic carriers.

“The British have experience training malaria dogs”

Police in Northwest Iceland oversees the training and assessment of all police dogs in the country. Chief of Police Stefán Vagn Stefánsson says that he’s been closely monitoring the progress of tests with COVID sniffer dogs abroad, and most particularly those taking place in the UK, as the British began training corona dogs quite early.

“The British have experience training malaria dogs in The Gambia in 2016, which yielded good results,” he noted. “They’ve put us in touch with the scientific institutes that are leading this work in the UK [the London School and Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Bernham University] and we’ve been able to follow along with their research.”

Once the British dogs have achieved a high enough success rate, Stefán hopes to be able to start a similar project in Iceland.

Two dogs, one hour, 500 samples

“We’ve got all the knowledge we need here to train these dogs,” he said. “We’ve located dogs abroad that have yet to be fully trained and can be brought to the country. It would probably be about a two-month process for the dogs to be able to sniff and detect skin swabs.”

In the British studies, the corona dogs are able to smell up to 250 samples an hour, which means, Stefán pointed out, that two dogs could sniff up to 500 samples an hour. “And, of course, to maximize accuracy,” he continued, “you could have two dogs smell the same samples.”

While Stefán is undoubtedly excited about the project’s potential and its applications in Iceland, he emphasized that it will be important to see how the pilot projects in Finland, Britain, and Germany progress. “And then, of course, it will be up to people other than us to make a decision about whether this becomes a reality here.”

Increased COVID-19 Testing in Capital Area

COVID-19 test

An increased effort will be put into COVID-19 testing in the capital area today after news broke that yesterday, people with symptoms weren’t getting appointments.  “The Chief Epidemiologist wanted to increase our effort and that we tested everyone who had symptoms or any history of possible contagion,” Director of the Healthcare Centres of the Capital Area Óskar Reykdalsson told RÚV.

Yesterday saw 38 new confirmed cases of the virus, half of which were already in quarantine. Óskar says that time slots for testing were filling up quickly yesterday, with many claiming to have symptoms. He nevertheless points out that only 3-5 % of those tested turn out to have COVID-19.

According to Óskar, the testing facility at Suðurlandsbraut is very well organised, and things move fast. “But we’re limited by the area around us, we can’t fit an unlimited number of cars there, for example.”

Twice the regular number of medical professionals will take samples in seven or eight places in the building, and today is going to be a busy day. “We’re expecting a large turnout, with the second border tests, a second test for people who are getting out of quarantine plus the people turning up for testing because of symptoms.” He expects that this reinforced testing efforts will result in between 3-4000 samples for testing, which could be the most tests taken in a day since testing started earlier this year.

Óskar says they might have to brandish the notorious testing swabs long into the night. “But we’re well organised, so we never need to stay longer than necessary.”

Highest Number of COVID Cases to be Diagnosed in a Single Day Since April

COVID-19 test

Seventy-five domestic cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed on Friday, the highest number of infections that Iceland has had in a single day since April 1, when 99 cases were diagnosed. RÚV reports that half of those diagnosed with the virus were already in quarantine.

Young People Make Up Majority of COVID-19 Infections

Of the 135 people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 over the last week, 70 of them are aged 18 – 29 and 40 are aged 30 to 39. Seven children aged six to 12 have also been diagnosed with the virus.

Currently, all but two positive infections are located in the capital area. Roughly a third of those are connected to bars and clubs in downtown Reykjavík. People who went to the Irishman Pub on Klapparstígur on Friday, September 11 between 4pm and 11pm were asked to come in for COVID-19 testing after several cases were traced to the bar, but the pub is not the only venue that group infections have been traced to.

See Also: Capital-Area Bars and Clubs Closed Over Weekend

“The main point in all of this, of course, is that we have to do all the things now that we did so well this spring,” remarked Víðir Reynisson, Chief Superintendent of Civil Protection. “We need to be careful about who we meet. We need to avoid crowds, keep our distance, and our own disease prevention efforts are really important right now. No matter what actions are taken now [by authorities], each and every one of us needs to take our own action, and do so immediately.”

Víðir confirmed that it is likely that gathering bans and social distancing requirements will get stricter in the coming days, but said that precisely what measures would be taken was still being considered by Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and his advisors, based on such factors as the seriousness of the current cases and further information about how the virus has spread.

“It’s clear, however,” concluded Víðir, “that these measures will primarily center around the capital area.”

One Hundred and Thirty-Five Cases Diagnosed in Last Five Days

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, positive diagnoses of the virus have exceeded 75 seven times. The highest number of cases to be diagnosed in one day was 106 on March 24.

Over the last five days, 135 cases of COVID-19 have been detected. At time of writing, 181 people were in isolation and 765 in quarantine. Two people have been hospitalized. Incidence of domestic infection is currently 41.7 per 100,000 inhabitants.

On Friday, 3,629 people were tested for COVID-19, 1,186 of whom were showing symptoms of the virus. Just under 5% of those who were showing symptoms tested positive.

 

Patrons of the Irishman Pub Asked to Come In For COVID-19 Testing

The Irishman Pub Interior

The bar where several people were exposed to COVID-19 last Friday night is the Irishman Pub on Klapparstígur in the city centre. The Chief Epidemiologist and the Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management revealed the bar’s name, in cooperation with the bar’s owners. People who visited the bar Friday, September 11, from 4 pm to 11 pm, are asked to come in for testing.

A notice from the Department of Civil Protection stated that nothing pointed towards disease preventions being lacking, but that there’s always a danger of infection when people gather.

“It’s vital to locate the people who were there to stop the further spread of the virus. Those who visited the aforementioned bar Friday, September 11, from 16-23, are invited to come in for testing,” the notice continues.

Those who visited the Irishman last Friday can sign up for testing today at www.heilsuvera.is.

There’s been an increase of confirmed cases of COVID-19 for the past few days, most of them stemming from people visiting the same bar, now revealed to have been the Irishman Pub.

Second COVID Test for Ministers Negative

A second COVID test for government ministers that were possibly exposed to the virus has been returned negative, RÚV reports. The ministers had been in quarantine until the first test was returned back negative. It was believed that the ministers’ were exposed to COVID-19 during a dinner in Hótel Rangá in South Iceland.

The result was revealed in a press release from the Prime Minister’s Office late last night. The first COVID test was performed on Friday, of which all returned negative. All of the ministers thought to have been exposed to the virus went for a second test this past Monday morning. Tests for three employees at the Prime Minister’s Office also came back negative.

See also: All Ministers’ First COVID Test Negative

The cabinet ministers held a meeting on the past August 18 and attended dinner together at Hótel Rangá, near Hella in South Iceland. Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir and Minister for Social Affairs and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason did not attend the dinner. A number of covid infections were traced to the hotel.

Following the dinner, contact tracers traced two active COVID-19 infections to the hotel and immediately focused their containment efforts on three groups of guests, one of which included the ministers.

Authorities have since conducted extensive tests among hotel staff and guests; people who had breakfast during a specific window on Sunday morning have been directed to quarantine. The Directorate of Health announced on Friday that eight of the ten people diagnosed that day with active COVID infections had stayed at the hotel.