There are still too many cases of locals breaching quarantine regulations by picking up travellers at Keflavík International Airport, says Sigurgeir Sigmundsson, Chief Superintendent of Keflavík Airport Police. Travellers arriving from abroad are permitted to take a rental car, their own car that has been parked at the airport, or a taxi to arrive at their quarantine destination. Bus service between the airport and the capital area was suspended indefinitely last month, but the government is now considering subsidising the service so it can be reinstated.
All travellers arriving in Iceland from abroad are required to undergo testing upon arrival, five days of quarantine, and a follow-up test. To arrive at their quarantine location, travellers are permitted to pick up a rental car at the airport, take their own car which has been parked at the airport or take a taxi. Friends or family members that pick up arriving travellers are required to go into quarantine with them. Authorities however strongly advise against this option and urge locals to avoid picking up travellers from abroad.
Taxi Drivers with Antibodies Sent to Airport
Unlike friends and family members, taxi drivers are not required to go into quarantine after transporting travellers from Keflavík Airport. They are, however, required to operate according to strict infection prevention guidelines. Vehicles are disinfected between each set of passengers and travellers are required to put in and take out their luggage themselves. Many drivers have also set up partitions in their vehicles, though they are not required according to current taxi regulations. Both drivers and passengers are required to wear masks for the duration of the trip.
Stefán Bachmann Karlsson, a taxi driver at BSR contracted COVID-19 in October of last year. He says that he and another co-worker, who has also recovered from COVID-19, are often sent out to the airport to spare other drivers at the company who are more at risk. “Many drivers are seniors, maybe have underlying illnesses and are reluctant to go on these trips, so we are used for them,” Stefán told RÚV reporters.
Government Considers Subsidising Bus Transport
Until late January, arriving travellers were also permitted to take airport buses to their quarantine location. Buses were operated according to strict infection prevention regulations, much like taxis. The privately-operated bus service was however discontinued last month as the drastically reduced flight schedule made the service unsustainable.
The Civil Protection and Emergency Management Department has since sent the government a formal request asking for bus operations to be subsidised. “We see that the cost of taking a taxi on the one hand and a bus on the other is significant,” stated Chief Superintendent Víðir Reynisson, the Department’s Director. “Of course, we must also try to ensure equality in this, how much the government should be subsidising people’s travel and such. It is not necessarily easy to intercede in this but this is something that we want to be examined in a formal way and a conclusion be made.” The government is considering the request.