Iceland announces further relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions

Tourists at Gulfoss, one of Iceland’s big tourist attractions. The ease of further travel restrictions may be announced at the end of July. (Eilis Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)
As of August 4, Iceland will further relax its COVID-19 restrictions, allowing groups of up to 1,000 people and allowing bars and restaurants to stay open until midnight.

 “We are now moving into a new mode of thinking when it comes to the pandemic,” said Thorolfur Gudnason, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist, in a news release.

“It seems that the virus will be a part of our existence for months to come, and maybe even for years. Now, we must figure out a way to continue our daily life with sensible modifications and precautions. We also need to shift out of crisis-mode and replace that with ongoing vigilance. Personal responsibility needs to become a norm in order for us to avoid serious setbacks, and we will continue to use early detection, isolation, contact tracing, and quarantine, to minimize the risk to our population.”

Further travel restrictions may be eased at the end of the month

Since June 15, Iceland has required visitors to either observe a 14-day self quarantine period or take a COVID-19 test upon arrival. 

Since July, 16, Iceland has exempted Finland, Norway and Denmark, along with Germany, from COVID-19 screening requirements for entering the country.

Further exemptions may be announced at the end of July. 

People wait in the entrance hall of the Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, Iceland August 4, 2017.
Travellers from all Nordic countries except for Sweden are now exempt from COVID-19 screening upon arrival. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

“Since the beginning of this global crisis, the Icelandic government has followed the recommendations of our medical and scientific community,” said Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, in a news release on Thursday.

“This has served us well so far, as the effects of the pandemic in Iceland have been less severe than in most places, both in terms of health effects and disruptions to daily life.”

As of July 23, Iceland was reporting no new domestic COVID-19 infections in the prior three week period.  Meanwhile, 11 active COVID-19 infections were detected at border screening during the same period.

Iceland has reported at total of 1,854 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, and 10 deaths.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit gov. in Labrador, Canada tells out-of-province travellers to stay away despite ‘Atlantic bubble’, Eye on the Arctic

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

Greenland: Greenland extends COVID-19 entry requirements until July 20, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland lowers price of on-arrival COVID-19 testing, Eye on the Arctic

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 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 a 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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