Iceland to open to vaccinated non-Schengen travellers
The announcement that Iceland is re-opening its borders to people outside the Schengen zone of European countries was made after this morning’s cabinet meeting. “This is of course the logical and reasonable thing in the situation,” tourism and industry minister Þórdís Kolbrun Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir commented.
She says the news is important for the tourism industry, as important markets outside Schengen, such as the UK, have been entirely prevented from travelling to Iceland without special permission (such as close family ties or urgent business). But the UK is among the countries with the most advanced vaccination programmes, which means there are a lot of fully-vaccinated people there that could safely enter Iceland, Þórdís said. “This greatly increases [the tourism industry’s] opportunity to manoeuvre and to market to specific groups. But it is also a matter of fairness towards people travelling between countries, whether foreigners coming here or Icelanders travelling. If you have a certificate to show you are either carrying antibodies or are vaccinated, then you should be free to travel, and I think this changes the situation significantly,” the minister adds.
Not all vaccination certificates will be accepted for the time being; only those approved by the European Medicines Agency. “We are working with the European Medicines Agency, so vaccines not recognised in our area are not accepted on vaccination certificates yet. But so far, we have been limited to this yellow vaccination certificate from the World Health Organisation, which has only so far been Pfizer, so we are now adding the other vaccines too that the European Medicines Agency has approved. It’s a bigger group of people now, more vaccines; though admittedly not the ones that the European Medicines Agency has not yet approved, but that is of course still in process and it will come to that,” Þórdís says.
Iceland joins a handful of Schengen countries such as Cyprus that are now open to vaccinated or recovered travellers from outside the zone; such as those from the UK and North America. Only those immunised with the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines are eligible at the moment.