Quarter failed to provide negative test

19.02.2021 - 14:53
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: RÚV - Grímur Jón Sigurðsson - RÚV
Iceland’s border control policies changed today and the first passengers required to provide a negative COVID-19 test certificate less than 72 hours old arrived from Boston. Roughly a quarter of the passengers did not have the required certificates, but no fines will be charged until Monday at the earliest.

Painstaking checks 

36 passengers were on board the first plane to enter Iceland since the rules changed at midnight. As well as the previous double border testing with five days’ quarantine in between, they now also needed a PCR test certificate less than three days old.  

Suðurnes police chief Sigurgeir Sigmundsson says the checks went well: “It definitely took a long time to examine the certificates and process them. The passenger processing time went up significantly. We were well over half an hour examining and processing it.” 

Did passengers know about the changes to the rules? 

“Yes, they did. It was only because of time that those who didn’t have the required certificates were without: they just couldn’t get them.” 

No fines yet 

Sigurgeir says the plane left Boston on Thursday evening, local time, and the rule in Icealand had not yet changed. He says people from the first plane without the certificates were allowed into Iceland anyway. “And we won’t apply fines until Monday at the earliest.” 

Nine of the 36 passengers did not have certificates, but all were tested at the border as usual. Sigurgeir says the passengers knew they were supposed to have certificates, but had been unable to arrange them at short notice, as it can be complicated in some places. 

A plane from Copenhagen is the only other arrival today, with 120 registered passengers, and a plane from Warsaw with 220 on board is expected just after midnight. 

Iceland is the 14th European country requiring tests before arrival and people who live in the country but have no such certificates can expect fines; though they will not be denied entry. 

The new rules also make it possible for the authorities to force passengers to spend their quarantine time at the Red Cross quarantine centre, if they cannot provide adequate details of where they plan to quarantine, or if they test positive for one of the three new, more contagious variants. Extra emphasis is also being placed on making sure people are not picked up from the airport in private cars. 

Activity inside the country 

One new COVID-19 case was diagnosed within Iceland yesterday, for the first time in seven days. The individual was already in quarantine, however. A total of 26 are in quarantine and 27 in isolation in the country. The 14-day inection rate per 100,000 people has risen slightly to 2.2. 

Staff of capital region nursing homes are continuing to receive vaccines today. Smaller groups from each home are being invited together to minimise the impact of absence in the following couple of days, as vaccinations often make people feel poorly the following day. 

The plan is to finish vaccinating everybody aged 90 and over next week, according to Ragnheiður Ósk Erlendsdóttir, the head of nursing at Heilsugæslan (the capital region healthcare centres). The following week, attention will turn to people aged 80-89. 

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