Iceland lowers price of on-arrival COVID-19 testing

People wait in the entrance hall of the Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, Iceland August 4, 2017.
Starting Wednesday, travellers will have to pay for on-arrival COVID-19 tests. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)
Iceland will begin charging for on-arrival COVID-19 testing on July 1, but is lowering the price from the previously announced 15,000 Icelandic kroner (approximately $150 CDN) saying the process has proven more cost effective than anticipated. 

Starting Wednesday, travellers who choose the testing option instead of a two-week quarantine, will be charged 11,000 Icelandic kroner (approximately $110 CDN) on site, or 9,000 Icelandic Kroner (approximately $90) if they pay in advance.

Iceland began offering COVID-19 PCR tests on June 15 and they were free of charge. 

The test involves taking swabs from the nose and throat.  

Those who opt for the tests are free to visit Iceland while waiting for their results, but are expected to follow public health directives like maintaining physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

Children born in 2005 or later are exempt from the testing requirement.

Testing to be offered for several weeks

The government initiated the testing option as a way to help jump start tourism, one of the country’s main industries, by allowing travellers to avoid two-week quarantine periods.

The testing program is overseen by Iceland’s chief epidemiologist and relevant health agencies along with deCode Genetics, the company behind Iceland’s mass sceening program that offered tests to the general population during the pandemic.

The government says DeCode’s participation in the traveller testing program allows up to 2,000 samples to be screened per day.

Health authorities say the on-arrival testing option will still be offered for several weeks.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Scrapped 2020 cruise season will cost communities in Nunavut, Canada almost $1 million, Eye On The Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Norway: Norwegian Arctic wilderness tourism hit particularly hard by coronavirus, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: All Russia’s North Pole cruises rescheduled to 2021, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden seen as major source of COVID-19 in Western Finland region, Yle News

United States: Airline shutdown creates new challenges for rural Alaska, The Associated Press

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying an culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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