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Opening the Icelandic borders
Iceland’s Justice Minister, Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir, just now announced, after a meeting with the Icelandic government, that Iceland will begin to accept vaccination certificates from countries outside the Schengen-area, including the USA and the UK on April 6th.
Until now, neither certificates of vaccination nor certificates of antibodies for COVID-19 have sufficed for those outside Schengen, an area comprising 26 European countries.
These new changes open up possibilities for visitors from both the USA and the UK, the latter of which lost their Schengen privileges after Brexit.
Both the UK and the USA have rolled out advanced vaccination programmes and are further along with them than those in many European countries. Opening up the borders to these two nations will undoubtedly have substantial benefits to Iceland’s economy. In the last few years, most visitors to Iceland came from these two countries.
Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir mentioned that other nations, such as Cyprus, have already taken similar actions. She further states that Icelanders should do the same so “people can enjoy Iceland with us“.
Vaccination & antibody certificates accepted in Iceland
The new regulations take into account both vaccination certificates and antibody certificates. This means that those who’ve already have Covid-19 and have antibodies present in their body can visit Iceland without quarantining themselves.
Currently, the only certificates valid are issued by the EU or WHO. However, the new regulations indicate that people will be able to bring certificates issued in their own countries and be exempt from Iceland’s tests and quarantine measurements.
The certificates, however, will need to adhere to the restrictions of Iceland’s Chief Infectiologist. As is the case now, those presenting false certificates can face high fines.
Iceland will only accept vaccination certificates with vaccines already approved by the European Medicines Agency, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Janssen. This means that countries vaccinating with other vaccines, such as Russia with Sputnik V, will have to wait until the agency’s approval.
Current border restrictions
Currently, only those living in the Schengen area are allowed to visit Iceland. Before entering the country, they need to present a negative PCR test from their own country, which is no more than 48-hour old.
They will then be subjected to another test at the Icelandic border. From the airport, visitors will need to head straight to quarantine, where they must spend the next five days. On the fifth or sixth day, they must report to the nearby testing facility for their final test. If all tests come back negative, visitors are free to travel around the country as they see fit.
The Icelandic government announced earlier this year plans on loosening the border restrictions on May 1st. Countries will be assigned a colour depending on active Covid-19 infections in the last 14 days.
Passengers from Green and Orange countries will be able to skip the five-day quarantine now mandatory for all arrivals. Instead, they will present a negative PCR test from their own country and then take a test at the border. If the border test is negative, they can skip the quarantine.