From 15 June 2020 Iceland has started welcoming back visitors from all EU and Schengen countries, including the UK, with the option of getting tested for coronavirus upon arrival, instead of a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
In the UK there are still restrictions in place as The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel and for those that do travel, they will still be required to self-isolate on returning to the United Kingdom under current British government guidelines, however once restrictions are eased, Iceland is poised to welcome British travellers back with immediate effect.
People will be able to fly or ferry to the island and enjoy an Iceland experience that is both safe and stunning. With the coronavirus epidemic having receded in Iceland the Icelandic Government has significantly eased prior restrictions on daily life. As of 15 June, gatherings of up to 500 people will be permitted, and all prior restrictions on maximum capacity at gyms and public pools will be removed. Since 18 May all businesses, entertainment, restaurants and bars have been open with restrictions on operating hours. This has led the way to ensuring that the country is ready to welcome international tourists to enjoy the nature and culture of Iceland, this summer and beyond.
Iceland has achieved success against the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of targeted measures. This includes early and high-volume testing, effective tracing efforts, quarantining of at-risk individuals and isolation of confirmed cases. These targeted efforts have spared Iceland from some of the harsher measures that other countries have endured. Primary school have remained open, general lockdowns were avoided and the use of facemasks has not been recommended by the authorities.
To safeguard Iceland’s success against the pandemic and protect tourists, the government has decided visitors from the UK, as well as the EU and Schengen countries have the option of getting tested for coronavirus or quarantine for 14-days. Children born in 2005 and later will be exempt from quarantine and screening requirements. For the first two weeks testing will be free. From 1 July, passengers will pay £90 (ISK 15,000) for a single test. Those who test negative will not be required to quarantine and will be able to continue exploring all the wonders Iceland has to offer.
Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, Head of Visit Iceland, comments: We are excited to offer a way for international visitors to enjoy visiting Iceland easily again. Daily life for Icelanders has been less affected compared to most counties and therefore it is almost back to normal. The chefs, bar staff, hotel managers, shopkeepers, tour guides and hosts are ready, and our breathtaking natural landscape is waiting to be explored. We believe Iceland has what people need at this time to reset and rediscover.”
As wanderlust kicks in, bookings to Iceland are on the rise as people look forward to travelling again and holidays are no longer a distant memory. Whether they are one of the first people set to enjoy the freedom of Iceland, or booking for a holiday later in the year, Iceland is ready and waiting for when Brits are allowed to travel freely again, once FCO advice changes.
For the time being, Iceland is calling on British would-be travellers to follow UK Government guidelines –that includes adhering to the non-essential travel advice from the FCO and for those who have essential travel needs, to adhere to the mandatory self-isolation upon return to the United Kingdom.
Mark Bibby Jackson
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