Iceland was one of the first countries in the world to introduce what seemed like a viable tourism plan. Well, about two months into opening its borders to visitors, Iceland is tightening up its rules.
Iceland will require double testing & quarantine
Iceland will be imposing more comprehensive border screening measures as of Wednesday, August 19, 2020. As of that day, all arriving passengers:
- Will have to get a PCR test at the airport upon arrival
- Will have to get a second PCR test four to five days after arriving in Iceland
- During those four to five days, travelers will need to self-quarantine; travelers can only stop their self-quarantine after it’s confirmed that both tests came back negative
This applies to everyone arriving in Iceland (meaning visitors and residents), with the exception of children born in 2005 or later.
As an alternative, travelers can just enter a 14-day quarantine.
Why is Iceland adding new travel restrictions?
These new restrictions follow two new clusters of infections having been identified in Iceland since July 23. One was almost immediately contained, and the rate of infection for the other one has slowed down.
Iceland’s 14-day domestic incidence is now 21 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is down from 27 per 100,000 inhabitants one week ago. Currently there are 112 active infections in the country, with 642 people self-quarantined, and one person hospitalized.
The government is also adding these precautions because of the increase in coronavirus cases worldwide, including in Europe.
As Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir describes this move:
“Given the uptick in infections worldwide and the widespread effect that a small infection can have on the functioning of our society, the Government has decided to strengthen our border-screening measures to further limit the number of infections entering the country. These measures will be reviewed and revised according to how the situation develops, both domestically and internationally.
However, we know that there is no way of eliminating the risk of infection. We are confident that our well-established measures of testing, tracing, and isolating, will continue to serve an important role, along with effective early treatment of all patients.”
Iceland’s impressive approach to tourism
Iceland is still only welcoming visitors from a limited number of countries. Since the country belongs to the EEA, it’s following EU recommendations in regards to which countries visitors can come from.
Several months back the plan was for Iceland to welcome visitors from everywhere as of June 15, but with the EU extending restrictions on travelers, that didn’t happen. Instead Iceland is just welcoming visitors from the EU/EEA, and about a dozen “low-risk” countries.
What has stood out about Iceland from the beginning is how responsibly the country has approached tourism in the age of coronavirus — Iceland more or less has coronavirus under control, the country is doing testing on arriving passengers, and the country also has good contact tracing.
Unfortunately even that hasn’t proven to be sufficient (at least by Iceland’s standards), which is why the country is adding more restrictions. Context is of course important here — with Iceland’s recent “spike,” we’re talking about a maximum of 20 new cases per day.
In mid-June Iceland opened its borders in what seemed like the most responsible way imaginable — the country had coronavirus under control, did testing on arrival, and also did contact tracing.
While that plan has mostly worked pretty well, Iceland is adding further restrictions as of August 19, as the country will require two coronavirus tests, plus a four to five day self-quarantine.
I imagine these new restrictions will be a significant deterrent for a lot of visitors, but I also can’t blame the country.
What do you make of Iceland’s new requirements for arriving passengers?