COVID-19 variant prompts Iceland to require quarantine for children entering country as of January 13

An image from the deCODE genetics laboratorium in Reykjavik, Iceland on January 12, 2021.  Scientists here work to sequence every single positive sample from those taking Covid-19 tests to determine both its strain and origin.  Iceland’s chief epidemiologist said Friday the UK strain has not yet spread in any significant way in the country. (Halldor Kolbeins/AFP via Getty Images)
As of January 13, Iceland will require children born in 2005 or later to quarantine, along with their parents or guardians, upon arrival in the country.

The new regulation was proposed by the country’s chief epidemiologist in response to surging case numbers in the rest of the world due to the COVID-19 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, the government said on Tuesday. 

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has been relatively well contained within [Iceland], it has surged in most other countries recently, largely due to the emergence and spread of a new strain that was first identified in Britain,” a news release said.

“This has been found to be more infectious than the earlier strains, and there are also indications that children are more susceptible to it. The proposal to oblige children entering the country to go into quarantine was therefore made so as to resist the spread of the virus in Iceland.”

The new regulation will be in effect until January 31.

Other regulations relaxed

As of Wednesday, Iceland was reporting a 14-day incidence of 18 per 100,000 inhabitants for domestic infections and of 25.9 per 100,000 inhabitants for infections detected through border screening.

In a news release on Friday, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist said the UK variant had so far not spread “to any significant extent in Iceland” and proposed the relaxation of certain restrictions including group limits and sports activities.

Those modifications also came into effect on January 13 and include allowing groups of up to 20 people to gather, and permitting adult and children’s sports activities to resume and fitness centres and skiing facilities to reopen. 

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Chamber of Commerce in Canada’s Northwest Territories says tourism threatened by COVID-19 border restrictions, CBC News

Denmark: Who is allowed into Denmark from Sweden right now?, Radio Sweden

Finland: How not to promote Arctic tourism, Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: Greenland changes COVID-19 rules for travellers from Iceland, Faroe Islands, 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: Summer tourism recovery is slow going in Sweden, 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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