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COVID-19: Border measures - amended requirements for quarantine

Photo: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson
Photo: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson

Clearer requirements are made for home quarantine, regarding housing and rules of conduct.

Those who are unable to stay in a home quarantine that fulfils the requirements will need to stay at a quarantine facility. However, no fee shall be collected for the stay.

This is among the stipulations of a new regulation issued by the Minister of Health that entered into force on the 9th of April and is based on recommendations from the Chief Epidemiologist.

The principal aim is to reduce as possible the risk of bringing infections to the country by measures allowed by the Health Security and Communicable Diseases Act. The regulation repeals regulation no. 355/2021 which entered into force on the 1st of April, including provisions requiring individuals from risk zones to stay in a quarantine facility which were deemed to have had insufficient legal basis by the District Court of Reykjavik. 

According to a memorandum from the Chief Epidemiologist to the Minister of Health, insufficient compliance with the rules applicable to home quarantine, constitutes the largest threat to the current measures to contain the spread of infections at the borders.There is a significant risk that infections will be brought to the country unless further measures are introduced at the borders.It is noted that the vaccination rate is not sufficient here in Iceland to prevent a widespread epidemic and the epidemic is spreading fast in most countries which in turn increases the risk of infections being brought to Iceland.Furthermore, new and more contagious variants of the virus have become pervasive in nearby countries which seem to cause more serious illness in younger groups of the population in addition to the prevailing uncertainty about whether they can cause re-infections and about the level of protection provided by the existing vaccines against them. 

The main rules on quarantine and testing at the borders as from the 9th of April

The same rules apply to all passengers irrespective of from where they are travelling: Measures to contain the spread of infections at the borders apply equally to all passengerscoming from countries identified as risk zones by the Chief Epidemiologist.

Testing and quarantine: Everyone arriving to the country shall be tested at the borders as before, quarantine for five days and undergo a second test upon finishing (cf. about children below and testing of individuals carrying certificates).People are allowed to quarantine at home if certain requirements are fulfilled. Those who cannot quarantine at home and/or prefer to stay at a quarantine facility may stay there without charge. 

Requirements for home quarantine: Those quarantining at home need to stay in a facility that fulfils the conditions and rules of conduct provided for in the new instructions issued by the Chief Epidemiologist. These include that the individual shall be isolated at the place of stay and if more individuals reside at the same location they are subject to the same requirements that apply to quarantine. Those who are unable to stay in a home quarantine that fulfils the requirements, shall stay at a quarantine facility. 

Breach of home quarantine: Where an individual is found in breach of home quarantine the Chief Epidemiologist may decide that the quarantine shall be concluded at a quarantine facility. 

Quarantine facility: Those who cannot quarantine at home and/or prefer to stay at a quarantine facility may dwell there. The stay is free of charge.Those staying at a quarantine facility will be enabled to undertake outdoor activities and special consideration will be given to children in relation to outdoor activities and other conditions. 

Testing and quarantine of children: Children born in 2005 or later shall be tested at the borders. A child who travels with an individual who is subject to stay in quarantine shall stay with that person and can leave the quarantine if the second test of its co-traveller is negative. When the co-traveller is not required to stay in quarantine the same shall apply to the child. A child travelling alone is not required to stay in quarantine.

Testing of individuals carrying a certificate: The requirement of testing individuals carrying a vaccination certificate, or a certificate of prior infection is adopted due to indications that those individuals can pass on infections. They are not required to stay in quarantine but shall wait for the result of the test at their place of stay. The requirement is temporary and will be reviewed before the 1st of May.

Increased surveillance and higher fines
The Chief Epidemiologist proposes increased surveillance of individuals in home quarantine in cooperation with the Police’s Department of Civil Protection and Emergency Management and a significant increase of fines for breaching home quarantine.The Minister of Health has forwarded the proposals to the Public Prosecutor and the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police.