Iceland has been a leader in travel during the age of covid-19, offering free testing to early arrivals and creating comprehensive facilities to keep visitors flowing safely.
But doubts over the efficiency of a singular covid-19 test on arrival have created the need for new arrival protocols, and for leisure travellers aiming for a quick visit to this stunning island, it makes things just about impossible.
Iceland’s New Testing Requirements
Effective August 19th, 2020, Iceland will impose new restrictions on everyone entering the country, with a mandatory quarantine period and two covid-19 tests before unrestricted movement will be allowed. If you were thinking about a short trip, think again.
And yes, everyone means returning residents and visitors alike.
Currently, all travellers must submit to a covid-19 test (at their own expense) upon arrival in Reykjavik, at a cost of 9000 ISK if booked in advanced, which is circa $66, or £50. After testing, arrivals are then allowed to carry on with their trip quarantine free, unless a positive test result is triggered, at which point the traveller would be quarantined.
Under the new rules set to take effect in Iceland on the 19th, travellers must take a covid-19 PCR test on arrival, and will then need to isolate for between 4-5 days, when a second mandatory test will be needed. The second test is complimentary.
During the 4-5 day initial isolation period, all arrivals will be required to minimize contact, which makes many activities during short trips almost impossible. Here’s a guide on what you can, and cannot do during the 4-5 day period.
You cannot take mass transit, and must only take a taxi to your place of quarantine. Once there, you’re not allowed out, unless for essential needs. Technically, you’re not supposed to get your own supplies, if possible, and at hotels, you’d be called upon to order delivery to your room, or room service. No visiting the bar, hotel pool or other facilities either.
Once you take your second test, which does require leaving the hotel, you’re then instructed to remain in quarantine at your location, until the second test is confirmed negative.
All arrivals into Iceland must pre-register, or face being left off flights.
If a traveller tests negative on their second test, administered 4-5 days after arrival, they’ll then be permitted to move freely, without additional restrictions in Iceland. For those planning multi week trips, it’s a relatively small price to pay to discover a truly epic destination, but for those hoping for a weekend getaway, it effectively makes travel impossible.
As countries look to add quarantine measures and provide additional layers of safety, many are creating new avenues of travel, including long stay “digital nomad” visas to encourage longer stays. Until better times, plan to make Iceland into a longer trip, if you do go, otherwise you’ll spend most of it holed up in a hotel room.