Border testing fees to be scrapped

17.11.2020 - 13:53
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: RÚV
Government ministers have decided to scrap fees for border testing when entering Iceland. The pandemic was the main topic of conversation at this morning’s cabinet meeting. The prime minister believes anti-contagion measures will continue but that Advent and Christmas could be good—even though it is already clear they will not be the same as usual.

Funding and extra funding were among the topics ministers discussed this morning, as budgeting matters must be settled before Alþingi’s Christmas break. The national budget is more complicated and sensitive this year than ever, thanks to the pandemic.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir explained that over 50 extra budgetary laws have been passed this year and that next year’s budget is being finalised: “These are the matters that take the longest time, alongside contagion prevention rules. I am going to introduce a proposal on Friday that will link together with a lot of other things.” 

“One thing we have already taken a decision on is that we will stop charging for testing at the border, and that is to ensure that there is no financial impediment to people going for testing, as we have been seeing,” Katrín says. “There are around three percent who have chosen 14-day quarantine over testing, and with this we will ensure that it is at least not because of financial concerns. We are also expecting a more seamless recognition of [international] certificates. The first tidings of that should come this week, so I hope that by Friday we will know what the future looks like and what the next step will be.” 

The current border testing arrangements expire on 1st December, and the authorities have yet to announce what will come next. 

Iceland is no longer on the European red list, which makes it easier for Icelandic travellers to go to other countries in Europe. A large majority of other European countries are still on the red list, however. 

While being one of the few places not on the red list is good news, the prime minister explains that Iceland does not officially use the colour-coding system and instead has its own system which still classifies every other country in the world as 'high risk'. Travellers from high-risk countries entering Iceland can currently choose between 14 days’ quarantine or two tests, five days apart, with quarantine in between. 

Katrín says she is hopeful the domestic infection rate will continue to drop quickly in the coming days. “We are on the right path, though I don’t believe all contagion control measures will be removed here. That’s not the way it is and we can expect them to continue. I am hoping we will see something of a let-up in the pandemic and that we can enjoy a good Advent—but it won’t be like a normal Advent,” she adds. 

Click to follow RÚV English on Facebook.