Iceland Welcomes Vaccinated Or Visitors With Proof Of Previous Covid-19 Infection From March 18, 2021

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Iceland, a country whose economy is highly dependent on international visitors, will reopen its borders for visitors with proof of previous Covid-19 infection or vaccination from Thursday (March 18, 2021).

This opens up the country for visitors outside of the European Union/EEA, including those from the United States and the UK. The government accepts various proofs of vaccination or Covid-19 recovery.

You can access Iceland’s page for tourism here.

Here’s the announcement from Iceland’s government:

Exemption from border measures for vaccinated individuals to be extended to non-Schengen countries

  • Iceland has not required those with immunity to undergo border measures.
  • From 18 March this exemption will apply to citizens outside the Schengen area, including the UK and USA.

The Icelandic government has announced that all those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine. Until now, this exemption has only applied to those presenting certificates from the EU/EEA Area but will now apply equally to everyone who can provide proof of a full vaccination with a vaccine that has been certified for use by the European Medical Agency as well as requirements defined by the Chief Epidemiologist of Iceland and Icelandic regulations.

Certificates from the the World Health Organization (WHO) (the International Certificate of Vaccination or the Carte Jaune/Yellow Card) are also accepted for vaccines the WHO has validated.

The exemption also applies to those who can provide valid proof of prior infection. Documentation on prior infections must be in accordance with the requirements defined by the Chief Epidemiologist.

“The world has been through a lot in the past twelve months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy. This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. The decision to apply border exemptions for vaccinated individuals to countries outside the EU/EEA area is a logical extension of our current policy,” says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.

By Simon Law – originally posted to Flickr as Icelandair, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9377341

Iceland has maintained a policy of exempting EU/EEA citizens with prior infection, as well as those who are fully vaccinated, from all border measures. “Our experience and data so far indicate very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection. When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of the location where the jab is administered. Our experience shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible.” says Thórólfur Gudnason Chief Epidemiologist.

Iceland has announced that from 1 May it will use the ECDC risk assessment colour code at the border. From that time travellers from low-risk areas (green and yellow) will be exempt from quarantine measures if they present a negative PCR result at the border.

Since 16 February, a negative PCR test is required prior to departure when travelling to Iceland. Additionally, a PCR test is mandatory at the border followed by a five-day quarantine and a second test. Vaccinated individuals and those with prior infection are exempt from the measures.

Currently 30 individuals are in isolation with an infection, 24 are in quarantine due to suspected exposure. No one is hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Iceland.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, every positive sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been sequenced by Icelandic biotech firm, deCode Genetics. Through these efforts it has been established that most of domestic transmission since 15 September are due to a particular variant of the virus, but all other variants, including B.1.1.7. have been contained at the border.

What needed to prove previous Covid-19 infection (access here):

The following certificates are considered a valid confirmation of a previous COVID-19 infection:

  • Positive PCR-test result for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 that is older than 14 days.
  • Presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 measured by ELISA serologic assay**.
  • Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs are not accepted (antigen or antibody tests).

Certificates of vaccination accepted (read more here):

Certificates of vaccination from the EEA/EFTA-area with a vaccine authorized by the European Medicines Agency, that are listed here (this list is updated as needed):

1. Comirnaty; Pfizer-BioNTech
2. COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna
3. COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
4. COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen

Certificates from the the World Health Organization (WHO) (the International Certificate of Vaccination or the Carte Jaune/Yellow Card) is also accepted for vaccines the WHO has validated. Certificate valid regardless of where vaccination took place. The following is a list of vaccines validated by the WHO (this list is updated as needed):

1. Comirnaty; Pfizer/BioNTech
2. COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
3. Covidshield COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca
4. COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen

Conclusion

Iceland’s economy is highly dependent on international visitors, and I have argued that there has been “fatigue” among the Icelandic population about the number of them.

The country has also been a popular stopover destination for those traveling between North America and Europe that Icelandair has promoted, and previously Wow too (an Icelandic airline that folded).

However, some visitors may have experienced the sticker shock of $50 burgers and the price of accommodation in the country.

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