Iceland to ease quarantine facility requirements for travellers from high-risk areas on May 31

A traveller outside of the Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik, Iceland in September 2020. Travellers from designated high-risk areas able to organize their own quarantines after arriving in the country will no longer be required to stay in official facilities starting May 31. (John Sibley/Reuters)
With COVID numbers continuing their downward trend, Iceland will start easing compulsory stays in designated quarantine facilities for travellers from high-risk areas starting on May 31.

“As of May 31,  the stipulation requiring people to stay in a quarantine facility, depending on from where they are coming from, i.e. from specific high-risk areas, is repealed,” the Icelandic government said in a news release on Thursday.

“At the same time, notices regarding regions and countries considered special high-risk areas for COVID-19 will no longer be published.”

As of Monday, the only people required to stay in a quarantine facility will be those who are unable to observe a quarantine in their own home, or make their own arrangements elsewhere.

Whether travellers observe a home quarantine or stay in an official quarantine facility, they’re still required to pre-register where they’re staying.

Travellers arriving from high-risk areas May 29-30,the weekend before the new rule takes effect, can request special authorization to home quarantine.

Domestic infections down significantly

Iceland implemented a series of special travel requirements at the end of April.

Bolstering quarantine requirements and restricting travel from countries identified as risk zones were among the measures.

Parliament House in Reykjavik, which houses the Althingi, the national parliament of Iceland. The government instilled a number of COVID-19 measures in April after travellers not respecting their quarantines trigged several domestic infection clusters. (John Sibley/Reuters)

High-risk areas were defined as any place where the 14-day incidence rate of infection was more than 700 people per 100,000 inhabitants, or places where data was not available.

The rules were in response to a series of domestic COVID-19 infection clusters traced back to travellers who had entered the country but not respected their quarantine and isolation requirements.

As of Friday, Iceland was reporting 7.9 domestic infections per 100,000 people, down from 17.7  two weeks ago,  and 2.7 cases per 100,000 people at the border, compared with 2.5 two weeks ago.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: 1st court date for southern couple accused of sneaking into northern Canadian community for vaccines, CBC News

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: Iceland’s revised COVID-19 border criteria seems to be working, some domestic restrictions relaxed, 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:  At least 16,000 in Sweden have long COVID, 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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