Traveling to Iceland? 5 Covid Protocols You Should Know
3 minute read - 09 Sep 2021
Iceland is the top travel destination for vaccinated travelers. On this page, you can find up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 in Iceland and what impact it may have on your travel plans when visiting Iceland.
Driving along Reykjavik’s windswept roads on a cold March morning, Kári Stefánsson turned up the radio. The World Health Organization had just announced that an estimated 3.4% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 would die — a shockingly high fatality rate, some 30 times larger than that for seasonal influenza.
Make sure you can show proof of one of two things: a full COVID-19 vaccination—be it Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)—via one of the official accepted forms, or an accepted document that shows prior COVID-19 infection (for example, a positive PCR test that’s older than 14 days). Note that for proof of prior infection, you need documented laboratory results; clinical diagnoses and rapid diagnostic tests (antigen or antibody tests) are not accepted.
While both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers without proof of prior infection can visit, the vaccinated and those who had COVID previously won’t have to quarantine. The unvaccinated face a host of other tests and restrictions (see below).
Do I need to quarantine on arrival?
Vaccinated travelers: If you’re vaccinated or can provide proof of a previous COVID infection, you won’t have to quarantine.
Unvaccinated travelers: However, unvaccinated travelers without proof of prior infection must present negative PCR test results on arrival and take another PCR test upon arrival then quarantine for five days at an approved accommodation and test again at the end of quarantine to be released.
What are the COVID counts and vaccine rates in Iceland?
As of 2019, Iceland has 356,991 residents; according to official Iceland vaccination statistics updated in early August, more than 255,322 residents have been fully vaccinated, and more than 275,173 have received at least one dose. That means roughly 71 percent of Iceland’s population has been fully vaccinated—one of the highest rates in the world.
On August 9, 2021, the CDC added Iceland to its “Avoid Travel” list and issued a Level 4: Very High Level of COVID-19 in Iceland alert. The U.S. State Department also issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory to Iceland on the same day “due to COVID-19 related restrictions,” indicating a “very high level of COVID-19 in the country.”
Being fully vaccinated doesn’t ensure you can’t catch or spread variants of the virus, so heeding the country’s social-distancing and masking rules remains paramount.
The Icelandic government reimposed social-distancing rules again on July 25. They will remain in effect until at least August 27, when they’ll be updated on the country’s official COVID-19 page. You must keep one meter (roughly three feet) between people who are not “closely linked” to you and wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible.
How much is actually open (museums, bars, restaurants)?
From museums to outdoor tours, expect to find most things open and operating across Iceland, albeit under new COVID-19 norms, with reservations often required and reduced hours and capacity possible.
Bars, nightclubs, and restaurants that serve alcohol are open but have an 11 p.m. curfew and allow a maximum of 100 guests. While mask use isn’t mandated at these venues, all guests are required to leave their tracing information including name, ID number, and telephone number. Swimming pools and hot springs, including the famous Blue Lagoon attraction, are open but operating at a 75 percent limited capacity.
What airlines have flights to Iceland right now?
Icelandair flies year-round from Boston daily, and it restarted daily service from New York (JFK and EWR), Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver, and Seattle last May through this December. You can also book flights from Minneapolis (five times a week) or Orlando (four times a week) now through December. Seasonal flights four times a week depart from Portland, Oregon, now through October 31.
Delta’s daily service to Reykjavík–Keflavík from JFK started back up on May 1 and resumed from Boston on May 20 and from Minneapolis/St. Paul on May 27.
United started daily service from Chicago to Reykjavík July 1 to run through October 3. United’s daily flights from Newark to Reykjavík resumed June 3 through October 29.
A recent search on Google Flights for nonstop round trips from New York were about $350, about $430 from Boston, and about $650 with one layover from Los Angeles.
Travellers who will be under quarantine can go for outdoor walks but are not allowed to visit tourist destinations.
The country is often appreciated and praised for its handling of the pandemic, the country followed a tough regime of tracking and tracing to contain the virus. And now after a month, the country is giving cautious relaxation on gatherings, leisure activities.
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