Suspected Quarantine Breakers Have Left the Country

Since Sunday, the police have sought a group of four suspected of breaking quarantine regulations on arrival in Iceland, RÚV reports. The people left the country yesterday. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason will turn in new suggestions for border regulations in the next few days, with the goal of making sure infections don’t cross the border.

One American and three Europeans sat at a restaurant in the Reykjavík city centre last Sunday. The restaurant’s employee heard them discussing that they weren’t following quarantine regulations and notified the police. Deputy chief superintendent Jóhann Karl Þórisson stated that the men had left when the police arrived but that the contact tracing team gave police information on their presumed residence.

Police officers visited the men’s residence, but they weren’t there. It was later discovered that the men were working for a company, and were sent away from Iceland once management discovered their behaviour during the time they should have been in quarantine.

“This is serious. We have these rules and we mean for people to follow them. We’re really trusting people to do so. If people are deliberately breaking the rules, the police have to interfere,” Jóhann Karl told RÚV.

Iceland currently has low domestic infection rates and medical authorities are working on relaxing restrictions. In order for people in Iceland to be able to relax, border restrictions must be respected. Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason is currently working on suggestions for the Minister of Health on how to possibly secure the border further. In an information briefing this week, Þórólfur discussed the possibilities they were considering. “We can enforce certain procedures more rigidly and verify information provided to us by travellers, such as phone numbers and addresses of quarantine residences. We can also request negative PCR tests at points of departure as many other European countries are doing. Finally, if we doubt people intend to respect quarantine regulations, we can mandate that they spend quarantine in the government’s quarantine hotels.”

Three Tourists Arrested, Fined for Breaking Quarantine

Police officers in masks

Three foreign tourists were arrested in a downtown Reykjavík restaurant on Saturday for violating quarantine protocols after their arrival in Iceland, Vísir reports. Each of them were fined ISK 250,000 [$1,797; €1,545] and they were sent home on Sunday.

Authorities immediately suspected that the trio did not intend to abide by quarantine regulations when they arrived in Iceland on Thursday, although they have declined to explain what raised their suspicions. As such, the travellers were specifically reminded of the regulations at the airport and, just to be sure, members of the contact tracing team visited the residence where they were staying in town that evening to remind them of the rules. Another visit was made to the tourists’ residence on Saturday night, but none of them were there. Instead, police found them in a restaurant around 10pm.

The trio were not the only visitors found to be breaking quarantine on Saturday. Earlier that evening, another foreign traveller was arrested after he tried to pick a fight on Laugarvegur in downtown Reykjavík. The man had just arrived in Iceland and was also supposed to be in quarantine. He was arrested and will likely be fined as well, although his case has not yet been settled.

In a Facebook post accompanied by a picture of three officers wearing masks and protective jumpsuits, capital-area police urged people to take quarantine regulations seriously. “Breaking quarantine is a grave matter. Such irresponsible behaviour can endanger the lives and safety of others!” read the post. “Respect quarantine—it’s a matter of life and death!”

Chief Superintendent Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson also explained how time-consuming it is for officers to go on call-outs related to quarantine violations. Two teams had to be reassigned from their normal duties and dress from head to toe in protective gear in order to find and collect just a few rule-breakers.

Ásgeir Þór waved off the idea that a language barrier could have played a part in the tourists’ misbehaviour, saying that authorities make certain that people understand the terms of quarantine and “how they need to behave” upon their arrival to the country. “Whatever they say—this was intentional.”

English Footballers Break Quarantine in Reykjavík

By inviting Icelandic women into their hotel rooms, two English national team members broke quarantine rules in Iceland. Players Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden were in the country with the English men’s national football team to play a match against Iceland this past weekend. Snapchat stories show the two broke “working quarantine” rules that apply to visiting athletes.

Martyn Ziegler of UK paper The Times reports that the two did not travel home with the rest of the squad after the Iceland match. England’s national football team manager Gareth Southgate stated the two players have apologised and said “nothing happened” in the areas the team occupied in the Reykjavík hotel.

Athletes visiting Iceland from abroad for the purpose of matches or competitions are not required to undergo double testing and five-day quarantine that applies to most travellers. They are instead subject to strict “working quarantine” guidelines that prohibit most activities outside of their work.

Greenwood and Foden were not at practice this morning, as they must remain isolated from their team members.

At a COVID-19 briefing in Reykjavík today, Rögnvaldur Ólafsson, Assistant to the Chief Superintendent was asked whether the two players would be fined for the violation. Rögnvaldur stated that Capital Area Police were investigating the incident and the case was nearly closed.

This story will continue to be updated.