Earlier this week, prime minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said the country would reopen to international visitors no later than June 15.
Instead of going through a two-week quarantine, travelers arriving in Iceland (including those from outside the Schengen Area) can choose to be tested for Covid-19 at the airport once it opens to tourists this June. Visitors will likely be required to download the official contact tracing app being used by as much as 40 percent of Iceland’s population. Those concerned about the protection of their personal details will feel secure in the knowledge that location data stored in the user’s phone is only released for tracing purposes when a Covid-19 infection is discovered.
Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, the Icelandic minister of tourism, industry, and innovation said, “when travelers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic. Iceland’s strategy of large-scale testing, tracing, and isolating has proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us.”
The combination of geographical isolation, an advanced healthcare system, and a quick government response to the pandemic has clearly paid dividends for Iceland. Out of just 1,802 confirmed cases nationwide, there have been 10 deaths and 1,780 patients have recovered. Only 12 active cases of the disease remain as of May 15. Per capita, Iceland has one of the highest testing rates of any country in the world, with almost 15 percent of residents already tested for Covid-19.
Across Europe, governments are keen to restart regional tourism ahead of the summer holidays, with talk of travel corridors being set up between member states of the European Union with similarly low infection rates. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania reopened their borders to each other earlier today, while Germany has reached an agreement with France, Austria, and Switzerland to completely lift travel restrictions by June 15.