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Compulsory border testing now, relaxation in May

15.01.2021 - 13:34
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 Mynd: RÚV
Health minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir has today issued new regulations that oblige everyone entering the country to be tested twice for COVID-19 with five days’ quarantine in between. Arriving passengers are no longer allowed to choose 14 days of home quarantine instead of testing.

Svandís says the move comes because the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in most other countries and many people choosing quarantine over testing are known to have been deliberately breaking quarantine rules.

With the order, discussed and approved by the whole government at this morning’s cabinet meeting, Svandís is adhering to the recommendation last week of chief epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason. 

A very large majority of people arriving in Iceland already choose the double testing option, and for them there is no change today. Testing remains free of charge.

The new rules start today and will remain in place until 30th April, at which time a more flexible colour-coded system will take over. 

People with extenuating medical circumstances will still be able to choose 14-day quarantine instead of testing. 

People certified as having had COVID-19 and recovered, or having been vaccinated, will also be able to avoid border testing. 

From 1st May, Icelandic border controls will depend on European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control colour coding.

Current arrangements will remain in place for people coming from countries coded as red, while passengers from orange and green countries will be allowed into Iceland with a very recent negative COVID test and a single test at the Icelandic border, with no quarantine or second test to follow. Recovered COVID patients and the vaccinated will receive the same treatment. 

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the prime minister, says that easier access to Iceland from the start of May will increase the risk posed by the virus, but that it will be more of a justified gamble by then, as all priority groups will hopefully have been vaccinated. 

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