New rules on returning home to Iceland are now in force

13.07.2020 - 09:02
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 Mynd: RÚV
[UPDATED at 14.18] The health minister's new rules on entering Iceland, specifically for all residents of Iceland and Icelandic citizens who live overseas, have this morning come into effect. It has been given the name 'heimkomusmitgát', roughly translated as 'homecoming contagion caution' and is not the same as full home quarantine.

As before, people arriving in Iceland will have the choice of 14 days' home quarantine or taking a COVID-19 test at the border. Citizens and residents of Iceland choosing the testing route will nevertheless have to restrict their interactions with other people for around five days after returning home, until the results of a second coronavirus test are known.

The change is intended to decrease the risk of a false negative result from testing at the airport or port leading to a larger group outbreak in Iceland.

Two group outbreaks in the country last month were traced to Icelanders returning from overseas and receiving a false negative test result from border testing. Hundreds were ordered into precautionary home quarantine as a result.

Today also marks a landmark as the final day deCODE genetics will process any COVID-19 tests taken at the Icelandic border. Company director Kári Stefánsson announced the surprise move last week and all responsibility for testing will fall to Landspítali national university hospital from tomorrow.

All current rules and working practices for testing or quarantining passengers arriving in Iceland are set to remain unchanged at least until the end of July.

Icelandic citizens and Icelandic residents entering Iceland from today must:

  • Not attend meetings, parties, or other gatherings of more than ten people.
  • Avoid all contact with at-risk individuals, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
  • Observe the two-metre rule when meeting others.
  • Avoid handshakes and hugs.
  • Be careful with personal hygiene and sanitisation.

People in 'heimkomusmitgát' are, however, allowed to:

  • Use public transport to get to their destination.
  • Go out in cars.
  • Go to shops.
  • Meet friends and family, with the above-mentioned restrictions.

All these restrictions will be lifted following a second negative coronavirus test result from four-to-six days (usually five days) after arrival.

UPDATE (14.18):
The second test is free of charge and will be taken at Orkuhúsið in Reykjavík, or at healthcare centres outside the capital region. While the rules only apply to Icelandic citizens and residents, regular foreign visitors with close ties to Iceland and Icelandic people are asked to consider following the rules as well.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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