Destinations

Iceland to ease international tourist restrictions by 15 June

Iceland plans to reopen tourism by mid-June, with the government expected to give tourists the option of being tested for COVID-19 upon arrival or a two-week quarantine.

The Government of Iceland has announced it expects to start easing restrictions on international arrivals no later than 15 June 2020, while some professionals arriving in Iceland, including scientists, filmmakers and athletes, are now eligible for a modified quarantine.

According to a government statement, the exact details of the revisions will be decided by the government’s multisector working group. However, it is expected that these would include offering travellers the choice of a self-imposed quarantine or test on-arrival in Iceland for COVID-19.

Iceland’s Minister for Tourism, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, said: “When travellers return to Iceland, we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic.

“Iceland’s strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us.”

According to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council, tourism contributed 28.8 per cent to Iceland’s GDP in 2019, with international visitor impact totalling 30 per cent of total exports (around $4.64 billion).

To date, Iceland has recorded 10 deaths from 1,802 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, said the country has only recorded three cases of the coronavirus in May, signalling that it is “ready to carefully open our doors to the world.”

“While we remain cautious, we are optimistic as a country that we can successfully begin our journey back to normality,” the minister said.

Exact requirements for international travellers are still being worked out, but the government believes this will likely mean being required to download and use the official tracing app already in use by 40 per cent of the population in Iceland.

The app has been developed following the “strictest privacy standards”, with location data stored locally on the user’s device unless released for tracing purposes in case of an infection.

Iceland’s borders have remained open to other Schengen countries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, quarantine measures for all international arrivals have been in place in Iceland since 24 April, and all Icelandic nationals and all residents arriving from high-risk areas have been required to quarantine for two weeks since January.

According to the government’s statement, Iceland will continue implementing travel restrictions imposed for the Schengen Area and the European Union, which have been extended to 15 June 2020.


Featured image: iStock/xavierarnau

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