No Further Restrictions for Chinese Travellers

Keflavík airport Icelandair

A recent memorandum by epidemiologist Guðrún Aspelund to Icelandic Minister of Health, Willum Þór Þórsson, has recommended against the introduction of border measures aimed at travellers from China.

In light of recent spikes there following the relaxation of China’s strict “No COVID” policy, the possibility of re-introducing border screening for Chinese travellers had been discussed, in line with similar measures taken by nations such as the United States, United Kingdom, and India.

Read more: Possible Restrictions for Travellers from China

The memorandum followed the January 4 meeting of the European Union’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) council, which aimed at coordinating the European response to the spread of COVID-19 in China.

However, Guðrún Aspelund’s recent memorandum on the matter concluded that she found no reason to introduce border restrictions at this time: “As it stands today, the evidence does not, in my opinion, recommend the introduction of measures at the border due to COVID-19 to protect public health, nor measures specifically aimed at passengers with China as a country of departure. We will update and distribute relevant guidelines to travellers. Sampling of random passengers arriving in Keflavík may be considered if there is evidence of a new variant that should be monitored.”

Guðrún Aspelung likewise pointed out that a majority of the Icelandic population has now received three doses of the vaccine, while a majority of the elderly population has received a fourth dose, further lessening the need for restrictions.

The memorandum also states that increased international monitoring and information collected by European nations with direct flight connections to China may give cause for a reassessment of the risk level in the coming weeks.

Doctor’s Orders

Þórólfur Guðnason

Over the past 18 months, Þórólfur Guðnason has gone from quasi-anonymous medicine man to bona fide historical figure. Along with Director of Health Alma Möller and Director of Civil Protection and Emergency Management Víðir Reynisson, Þórólfur forms the so-called “troika” – the face of the government’s response to COVID-19. He’s Iceland’s Anthony Fauci: the imperturbable voice of reason and restraint. It’s a complicated role predicated mainly on credibility, demanding a certain immaculateness when it comes to personal precautionary measures.

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PCR Tests and Proof of Previous COVID Infection Accepted for Entrance at Public Events

COVID-19 test

Effective as of midnight on Friday, patrons of public events with 50 or more attendees will be able to gain entrance by showing a negative PCR test or proof of a previous COVID-19 infection, RÚV reports. Under the previous mandate, which has been in effect for two weeks, only rapid antigen tests taken no more than 48 hours before an event were valid for entrance.

The change has been welcomed by event organizers, who argued that the rapid test mandate excluded people who could otherwise safely attend public events. “We’re pleased, of course, that this is being opened up and [events] made more accessible for this particular group of people,” said Magnús Geir Þórðarson, Director of the National Theater.

“This is a continuation of a conversation that we’ve had with the authorities and we’re doing our part to make sure that it goes as smoothly as possible,” said Magnús Geir.

The new mandate applies to anyone born in 2015 or earlier. Individuals who have had COVID-19 will need to produce an official certificate (vottorð) verifying this. Rapid tests taken within the correct time frame will still be accepted at events; more information about testing centers here.