Iceland will open its borders to all travellers no later than June 15 and give them the option to take a coronavirus test at Keflavík International Airport on their way into the country. The country’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced this and other decisions to loosen travel restrictions to and from the country at a press conference in Reykjavík today. Iceland currently has just 15 active COVID-19 cases and has gone five days without reporting a new case, despite widespread testing.
On March 20, Iceland closed its borders to tourists from countries outside of the EEA and EFTA. That closure was scheduled to end on May 15, but will be extended for an additional month. Under current regulations, both foreigners and locals who enter the country must undergo a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. From June 15, however, tourists and Icelandic residents will be allowed to enter the country from outside the Schengen area, and all travellers given the option to get tested upon entering instead of undergoing quarantine. Authorities expect test results to be available the same day, and those who test negative for SARS-CoV-2 will not be required to quarantine themselves.
If travellers have a reliable certificate confirming they have recently tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 they will also be exempt from undergoing quarantine. Travellers will, however, be asked to download Iceland’s official contact tracing app.
Special permission for visiting film crews, athletes
Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason has also proposed relaxing the rules for so-called “quarantine B,” a less strict version of quarantine imposed on business travellers, from this Friday, May 15. Individuals coming to Iceland to work on special projects, for example scientists, film crews, athletes, and journalists, will not be required to undergo quarantine but will have some restrictions on their movement.
Þórólfur also proposed taking the Faroe Islands and Greenland off the list of countries where there is a high risk of travellers contracting COVID-19. Both countries have seen a low number of cases and no deaths.
Much planning still ahead
According to Prime Minister Katrín Testing at Keflavík Airport will be carried out in collaboration with the National University Hospital of Iceland. Exactly how it will be carried out is yet to be determined, as is who will bear the cost. The Prime Minister stated that the government was considering whether the state treasury would pay for the procedures or travellers themselves.
The proposed border opening depends on the continued decline of cases in Iceland. Authorities stated it could also be implemented earlier than June 15 if preparations go well and the number of cases remains low. The testing may be used toward further research of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.