What Kinds of Tests Will Exempt You from Quarantine?

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir.

Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason and Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson

Vala Hafstað

The Icelandic government confirmed yesterday that starting June 15, passengers will have the option of being screened for the novel coronavirus upon arrival at Keflavík International Airport, and later on at other international ports. Passengers who choose not to be screened upon arrival must spend two weeks in quarantine, as currently required.

From Keflavík International Airport.

From Keflavík International Airport. Eggert Jóhannesson

At this point, Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason does not recommend relying on antibody tests from abroad confirming that the person in question has previously been infected with the novel coronavirus. Therefore, certificates to that effect will not exempt people from further restrictions upon arrival.

“That could, however, change in the coming weeks and months,” he adds.

Þórólfur admits it is hard to assess the risk involved in opening Iceland’s borders, but in his opinion, it does not appear to be great even though the number of tourists were to increase substantially. The risk depends, among other things, on how the pandemic develops abroad.

A report on the financial aspect of easing travel restrictions, written by ministries in Iceland, suggests that tourists themselves should carry the cost of testing at the airport. That precise cost is yet to be announced.

Last year, nearly 1.1 million tourists visited Iceland, but the Icelandic Travel Industry Association predicts their number will likely be close to 250,000 this year. The most optimistic forecast puts the number at 350,000.

UPDATE : Parts of this article have been omitted, since the goverment has decided not to accept any test results from abroad for now. A statement to that effect was issued June 5, after this story was published. The statement reads:

At this time, test results from other countries will not be accepted for exemption of quarantine.”

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