Iceland to open borders by June 15th

May 13, 2020

Iceland will open its borders to all travellers no later than June 15th, the country´s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir announced yesterday. Visitors will be given the option of taking a coronavirus test on arrival, with those resulting negative spared a mandatory two-week quarantine.

Testing will take place inside the terminal of the international airport. Visitors will be allowed to head to their accommodation, while they wait for the result of their test, which is expected to be delivered with 6-8 hours.

Travellers carrying a reliable certificate confirming they have recently tested negative for COVID-19 or positive for immunity will also be exempt from undergoing quarantine. Travellers will, however, be asked to download Iceland’s official contact tracing app, currently used by 40% of Iceland’s population.

Final details on the easing of quarantine requirements for travellers will be announced by the end of May.

Only 3 new cases in May

With only three infections confirmed in May, Icelandic authorities are keen to maintain the progress made so far in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iceland has confirmed 1,801 case of the virus so far, but only 10 people have died. The number of new COVID-19 cases each day has fallen from 106 at the peak of the outbreak to zero over the past 6 days.

Iceland’s success is partly testament to its tiny population — just 360,000 people. But it also reflects decisive action by authorities, who used a rigorous policy of testing and tracking to find and isolate infected people, even when they had no symptoms.

Large-scale testing and tracing

Over six weeks, Iceland managed to test over 55,000 people, more than 15 percent of the population, the biggest chunk of any country in the world.

That has helped Iceland weather the pandemic without resorting to the near-total social and economic shutdowns enforced in many other European countries. Infected people and their contacts were quarantined, but the rest of the population was not forced to stay inside, only to be careful.

Alongside the testing, civil defense authorities set up a Contact Tracing Team, including police officers and university students, which used legwork and phone calls to identify people who had come into contact with infected individuals. The mobile phone tracing app was up and running a few weeks later.

Starting this week, gatherings of up to 50 will be permitted, high schools and colleges can resume classes and all businesses except bars, gyms and swimming pools can reopen. These will re-open later in May.

A safe and inspiring destination

With wide open spaces and low population density, Iceland could become an exciting option for travelers seeking a safe and inspiring destination in a post COVID-19 world.

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