COPENHAGEN, March 17 (Reuters) – Iceland will this week open its borders to all visitors who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 without mandatory testing or quarantine, as it seeks to attract more tourists to help revive its coronavirus-hit economy.
The North Atlantic country, which will become one of the first to open its borders since the beginning of the pandemic, saw tourist numbers plummet by 75 per cent last year to just under half a million, causing its economy to contract by 6.6 per cent.
“The world has been through a lot in the past twelve months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement.
“This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise.”
Iceland had until now allowed vaccinated visitors from European Union countries to enter without restrictions, but from March 18 this exemption will apply to citizens outside the Schengen area, including Britain and the United States, it said.
Visitors must present proof of vaccination with a vaccine that has been certified by the European Medicines Agency, which excludes Chinese and Russian vaccines.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Arctic Tourism & the Pandemic podcast, Eye on the Arctic
Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic
Iceland: Iceland relaxes some COVID-19 restrictions as downward infection trend holds, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: Norway extends border closure with Finland due to pandemic, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Norway closes borders over fears of virus, but exempts Russian fishermen from severely infected border region, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Swedes caught in Norway border limbo, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska politicians send Trudeau letter saying they’re “shocked” over Canada’s COVID-19 cruise ship ban, Eye on the Arctic