Iceland’s ban on unnecessary travel from high-risk areas now in effect

Reykjavik, Iceland. The Arctic Circle Assembly was held in the city this week. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Reykjavik, Iceland. Iceland’s new ban applies to all international travellers, even if they are from European Economic Area states or countries part of the European Free Trade Association. (Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Iceland’s ban on unnecessary travel from high-risk areas came into effect on April 27 in an effort to tamp down a rise in domestic COVID-19 infection.

High-risk areas will be defined by any place where the 14-day incidence rate of infection is more than 700 people per 100,000 inhabitants.

The definition will also be applied to areas where no reliable information is available. 

The ban applies to all international travellers, even if they are from European Economic Area states or countries part of the European Free Trade Association. 

Foreign nations who already reside in Iceland are not subject to the new restriction.

Essential Travel Definitions

The new ban does not apply to international travellers coming to Iceland for reasons deemed essential. Essential travel falls into the below categories:

  • Transfer passengers.
  • Healthcare and elder care workers
  • Transport workers
  • Individuals in need of international protection.
  • Urgent family travel
  • Individuals and delegations invited by Icelandic authorities, diplomatic staff, representatives of foreign states, staff of international organisations, armed forces representatives, humanitarian assistance and civil protection staff, and the families of all of the above
  • Students
  • Individuals who need to travel due to business or work that, due to its characteristics, can not be postponed or carried out abroad

-Source: Government of Iceland

As of Tuesday, Iceland was reporting 43.4 domestic infections per 100,000 people (up from 29.2  last week), and 3.8 cases per 100,000 people at the border (down from 5.2 last week).

The ban will remain in place until the end of May.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

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: Icelandic government proposes bill for stricter COVID-19 border measures, 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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