Icelandic government proposes bill for stricter COVID-19 border measures

A 2017 file photo of people waiting in the entrance hall of Keflavik International Airport, near Reykjavik, Iceland. The government hopes tighter border restrictions will help tamp down the rising domestic infection rate. (Michaela Rehle/Reuters)
The Icelandic Government has proposed a bill with new border measures to help tamp down the domestic spread of COVID-19.

The new proposed measures would bolster quarantine requirements and restrict travel from countries identified as risk zones.

Travellers arriving from countries where the 14-day domestic infection rate exceeded 1,000 cases per 100,000 people would be required to stay in quarantine facility upon arrival in Iceland.

The bill would also allow Iceland’s minister of the Interior to ban non-essential travel from countries designated as risk zones, defined again as having a 14-day domestic infection rate exceeding 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

The current rules on certificates and border testing would stay in place.

Currently, those who have vaccination certificates or proof of prior COVID-19 infection are required to have only a single COVID-19 test at the border, and then quarantine at their residence until the result is available.

For others, a test at the border is followed by a five-day quarantine followed by a second test.

Border positives steady, domestic infections increasing

In a news release on Tuesday, the government said in anticipated relaxing these border measures on June 1 for countries designated as low risk.

As of Thursday, Iceland was reporting 29.2 domestic infections per 100,000 people (up from 16.1 last week), and 5.2 cases per 100,000 people at the border.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Arctic Tourism & the Pandemic podcast, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Mysterious coronavirus variant in Arctic Finland is rare US-Mexican strain, Yle News

Denmark/Greenland: Greenland authorities buoyed by high demand for COVID-19 vaccine, Eye on the Arctic

Iceland: With tougher border rules appearing to work, Iceland to relax some domestic restrictions, 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: COVID-19 strategy darkens Sweden’s image in the Nordics, 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

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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