Stronger COVID border rules now in force

19.08.2020 - 12:33
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Grímur Jón Sigurðsson - RÚV
[UPDATED] Iceland’s new, harder COVID-19 border controls went into effect at midnight and require everybody arriving in the country to either quarantine for 14 days, or to take a coronavirus test at the border, quarantine for five days, and then take a second test. No countries are exempt from the new rule. But what does it actually entail?

The rule applies to everybody who has spent more than 24 hours during the past 14 days in a foreign country not deemed as safe. No countries are currently deemed as safe, after Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Germany, and Norway were removed from the list at the end of yesterday. 

Yesterday saw the end of heimkomusmitgát (homecoming contagion caution)—sometimes dubbed ‘light quarantine’ and passengers arriving from today onwards must now instead fully quarantine for their first five days in Iceland, until the results of their second test are known. This applies to residents and visitors alike. The old rules remain in place for people who arrived before the start of today.

While in quarantine, people must remain at the home or accommodation address they registered with the authorities online before or upon arrival in Iceland. They are furthermore not allowed to use communal facilities at their registered address, such as common rooms, stairwells, hotel bars or restaurants, basements, or lifts, except when entering or leaving the building. 

People in quarantine are allowed to leave their home or accommodation to go for walks or drives in their own private car or hire car. Car trips should be as short as possible, however, and not extend out of the municipality in which their registered address is located. Such car trips must also not involve close contact with others, such as at drive-thru restaurants. 

People in quarantine are free to go for walks, as long as they stay outdoors and strictly adhere to the two-metre rule. 

People in quarantine are asked to adhere to the two-metre rule in their own home or accommodation and to remain primarily in one room if they share the space with anybody else, as well as to regularly sanitise surfaces. 

Tourists visiting Iceland can quarantine in their hotel or guesthouse; though not all establishments have been certified to accept quarantining passengers. People in quarantine must have access to private bathroom facilities and are not permitted to quarantine in camper vans or at campsites. 

People in quarantine are not permitted to go to supermarkets, post offices, pharmacies, banks, or any other communal service centres. The same applies to gyms, pools, other shops, bars, and restaurants. They can, however, accept deliveries and many shops and services offer such services online and by phone. 

As well as going out for walks, people in quarantine are also allowed to spend time on their balcony or in their garden, as long as the two-metre rule can be respected. 

Early speculation was that the quarantine period might be a flexible four to six days, because second tests were not carried out at weekends or on public holidays. Testing is now carried out at weekends, however, and people are told when and where to go for testing by email immediately after their initial negative border test result is confirmed. People who test positive at the border are contacted by telephone. 

UPDATE: Arriving passengers are not allowed to use public transport while quarantining. The Flybus airport transfer service is nevertheless running as normal today, while the company waits for confirmation from the authorities over whether the service can carry on under an exemption. If forced to stop, the only way for arriving passengers to travel would appear to be taxi, hire car, or their own personal car. Further details on the short-term future of the Flybus service are expected soon.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager
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