Iceland to continue double screening for COVID-19 until December 1

“Being an island, Iceland remains dependent on having an active interaction with other nations and having access to international markets so our aim is clearly to return to normality when it comes to international travel,” says Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir (pictured here in 2018). (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)
With an increasing number of COVID-19 cases in Iceland over the last two weeks, Iceland has moved to prolong its double-testing regime for travellers until December 1.

The government says it will continue to monitor developments and impose additional restrictions if necessary.

“Protecting the health and well-being of our people and protecting the capacity of our healthcare infrastructure remains our number one priority here in Iceland,” Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrinbsdottir said in a news release on Wednesday.

“However, being an island, Iceland remains dependent on having an active interaction with other nations and having access to international markets so our aim is clearly to return to normality when it comes to international travel.”

Iceland’s double testing regime has been in place since August 19.

People wait in the entrance hall of the Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, Iceland August 4, 2017.
(Michaela Rehle/Reuters)

Travellers arriving in the country are given the option of a 14-day quarantine or undergoing a double-testing regime, with one test upon arrival and then a 5 to 6 day quarantine at which point a second COVID-19 test would be done to rule out initial false negatives.

Stricter COVID rules for capital area

Also on Wednesday, COVID-19 rules were tightened in the Reykjavik capital area.

The new measures apply to Reykjavik and the nearby towns and municipalities of Mosfellsbaer, Hafnarfjordur, Gardabaer, Kopavogur, Kjosarhreppur and Seltjarnarnes.

New measures for Reykjavik capital area:
A view of the 50m outdoor pool at the biggest swimming pool of Iceland, Laugardalslaug. Swimming pools are among the facilities closed in the Reykjavik capital area to slow a surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. (Jeremie Richard/AFP via Getty Image

Among the new measures in place in the Reykjavik capital area:

  • two-metre distances must be observed
  • face masks required in shops when a two-metre distance cannot be observed
  • swimming pools closed
  • no indoor sports
  • performing arts venues may not seat more than 20 people. Audience members must wear face masks
  • restaurants must close at 9pm

Earlier on October 4, Iceland reduced the permitted size of gatherings to 20 people. Fitness centres, bars, night clubs and gaming establishments were also closed.

As of Wednesday, Iceland has had 3,172 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths since the pandemic began. Health authorities are reporting 181.6 domestic infections per 100,000 people over the last 14 days.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Chamber of Commerce in Canada’s Northwest Territories balks at price tag for new COVID-19 secretariat, CBC News

Finland:  Finnair to end flights to five regional airports, including to Kemi, Lapland, Yle News

Denmark: Faroe Islands updates COVID-19 guidelines for travellers, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland approves revised COVID-19 strategy, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: Iceland extends bar, nightclub COVID-19 closures in capital area until September 27, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norwegians with Swedish property threaten legal action over travel restrictions, Radio Sweden

Sweden: Finland, UK to remove travel restrictions on Sweden, Radio Sweden

United States: To stop coronavirus, Arctic communities took matters into their own hands. Can it last?, Blog by Mia Bennett

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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