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Iceland: COVID-19 screening mandatory for arriving passengers until spring

Christian Fernsby |
As of January 15, all passengers must undergo a PCR test upon arrival in Iceland, followed by a 5–6-day quarantine and a second screening at the end of quarantine period.

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Topics: ICELAND   

This procedure will remain in place until 1 May, when cautious steps will be taken to ease restrictions, based on the epidemiological situation at passenger's point of departure.

The decision by the Government is a continuation of the procedure that has been in place since 19 August when the system of double screening was established. The option to choose a 14-day quarantine instead of screening will however be removed. Less than one percent of arriving passengers have opted for that option in recent weeks.

“We are fortunate to have been able to get the most recent wave under control, which is why we want to take these precautionary steps now. The remarkable patience, understanding and adherence to domestic restrictions, that our people have shown has been key to the progress made so far, as well as success in limiting the inflow of new sources of infection at the border.

"While we are all looking forward to life returning to normal, and welcoming visitors from around the world, it remains vital for us to safeguard our position while we gradually increase protection of the population with our vaccination efforts," says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.

These changes are in line with recommendations by the ECDC and the Chief Epidemiologist of Iceland, whose assessment indicates that there is considerable risk of new infections "leaking" through the border, especially from individuals who choose not to be tested at the border.

It is especially important to minimize the risk of new variants of the virus spreading in Iceland, but these have repeatedly been detected and stopped at the border. Therefore, the Minister of Health has issued a regulation that mandates screening and removes the option to quarantine for 14 days. Only in rare circumstances, such as in the case of valid medical reasons, will exemptions be made.

On 1 May cautious steps will be taken to ease restrictions if the epidemiological situation internationally allows. With the ongoing vaccination programs throughout the world, a gradual improvement in the situation is expected, which will open possibilities to make travelling easier from areas where the pandemic is under control, while maintaining restrictions on travel from areas where the situation warrants such precautions.

Arriving passengers who are in possession of valid documentation that proves prior infection or vaccination against covid-19 are exempt from all border measures. Currently, only positive PCR-tests and certificates of presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 from a laboratory within the EEA/EFTA-area or a confirmation from the Chief Epidemiologist in Iceland are accepted.

As of now, only the international certificate of vaccination is accepted as proof of vaccination but further conditions and specifications regarding other

ypes of certificates remain to be issued. The Government of Iceland anticipates that vaccination will gradually reduce the risk that stems from the pandemic, while efforts to contain the spread of the virus remain of paramount importance. In light of this, the border measures will be reviewed monthly, primarily with the aim to implement easing of restrictions if the situation allows.

After 1 May the border measures will be based on the regularly updated data published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Countries will be risk-assessed into green, orange, and red zones according to the epidemiological situation.

Considering Iceland's unique geographical position, the measures at the border will most likely be stricter than those prescribed by the EU, at least initially. Passengers from low-risk countries will be exempt from quarantine and a second screening if they can provide proof of a negative PCR test prior to departure.

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