Travellers arriving in Iceland from European countries with high COVID-19 infection rates will now be required to quarantine at government-run hotels. This is according to new border regulations passed by Iceland’s government today. Children born after 2005, who have thus far been exempt from COVID-19 testing at the border, will now be required to undergo testing upon entering the country. These new measures take effect on April 1 and will be valid for one month.
According to the new regulations, all travellers who are arriving from or have stayed in areas in Europe where the 14-day incidence of COVID-19 infection exceeds 500 per 100,000 (according to the European Centre for Disease Control) must stay in quarantine hotels during the mandatory 5-day quarantine for all travellers. They will also be required to remain in the hotel if they test positive and must undergo isolation. The same applies to travellers from countries where information on the incidence rate is lacking. These two areas are respectively labelled dark red and gray on maps issued by the ECDC. Travellers who present a valid vaccination certificate or certificate confirming previous COVID-19 infection will be exempt from these measures.
British and Brazilian Strains in Local Cases
Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason recommended tightening border restrictions after an uptick in domestic COVID-19 cases last weekend traced to cross-border infections. “I don’t think we have fully seen the end of these group infections that have been diagnosed in the last few days,” he stated. “We need to be prepared for that.” The so-called British variant of SARS-CoV-2 is responsible for the new domestic cases, while a group of cargo ship crew members that tested positive in East Iceland are all carrying the Brazilian variant. The entire crew of 19 is either in isolation or quarantine on the ship.
Though several new domestic cases were diagnosed over the weekend, Iceland only reported one new domestic case yesterday, in quarantine. Þórólfur confirmed that he would not propose tightening domestic restrictions while case numbers remained low within Iceland. Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir stated that authorities are ready to impose harsher domestic restrictions to limit the spread of the virus if necessary, but would wait to see how case numbers develop over the next two or three days.