New border measures: Travelers required to present negative PCR test before boarding

New border measures: Travelers required to present negative PCR test before boarding
Photo: Ragnar Th. Sigurðsson
  • Double screening for all arrivals remains in place
  • Those who test positive in first screening may be required to isolate in a managed facility
  • Temporary measures at border are intended allow speedier loosening of domestic restrictions
  • Those who provide valid proof of vaccination are not required to provide a PCR-test prior to boarding and are also exempt from screening and quarantine measures at the border
  • Iceland will implement a new system, based on the ECDC colour scheme on 1 May
  • No cases of community transmissions have been identified since 20 January

New border measures will come into force on February 19 which requires all arriving passengers in Iceland to present a negative PCR taken within 72 hours of their time of departure to Iceland.

This is in addition to the current system of double screening, that also requires all arriving passengers to submit to a PCR test upon arrival, followed by a 5-day quarantine and a second PCR test. Those who provide valid proof of having been vaccinated against COVID-19 are not required to provide a PCR-test prior to boarding and are also exempt from screening and quarantine measures at the border. The same applies to those who can provide proof of prior infection.

A new regulation on border measures also includes provisions that require individuals to isolate in managed isolation facilities (quarantine hotels) if the first border test is positive and the infected individual is unable to provide credible plans for self-managed isolation. The requirement for isolation in a managed facility may also apply to individuals who are infected with virus strains that are classified by the Chief Epidemiologist as particularly worrisome in terms of contagion and morbidity. These measures were introduced to the Icelandic cabinet by the Minister of Health earlier today. The stricter measures are based on recommendations by the Chief Epidemiologist.

Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir said: "By requiring every passenger to present a negative PCR test prior to boarding we are reducing the likelihood of a person starting a journey while unknowingly infected by the virus. Many countries in Europe have already introduced similar measures and we have already announced plans to allow travellers from low-risk countries to bypass quarantine measures from 1 May on the condition that they present a negative PCR test prior to boarding. We believe that requiring a negative PCR test prior to boarding is an effective and proportional requirement, especially in light of the fact that people now have good access to such testing in most countries in Europe."

The current levels of COVID-19 in Iceland are low and are being closely monitored, with only one active infection having been diagnosed domestically in a person outside quarantine since 20 January. The domestic 14-day incidence rate stands at 1.9 per 100,000 inhabitants. 24 people are currently in-home isolation with an active infection, none over the age of 60.

Minister of Health, Svandís Svavarsdóttir said: "We view these tighter control measures as a way to allow us to ease the domestic measures sooner and allow us to start taking gradual steps towards normalcy, while maintaining utmost caution. This is a delicate balance, as easing of domestic measures increases the risks associated with imported cases. However, we have had very good experience with our current system of double screening so any additional layer of risk reduction will give us increased confidence."


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