Iceland is one of the least affected countries by the Covid-19 pandemic and currently considered successful in controlling the pandemic, at least until now there have been no new cases reported since beginning of July. According to Ministry of Health (Iceland), the number of infections in this tiny North Atlantic island nation is still 1,840 in total, 1822 cases were recovered, and the number of deaths is 10.
During the outbreak of COVID-19, like other countries, Iceland has experienced some rough turbulence as besides Greece and other Mediterranean countries, Iceland is the most dependent on tourism among the European countries. Tourism has boosted and driven economic growth in Iceland after the financial crisis in 2008. In the years before the coronavirus crisis, the industry accounted for 8% of GDP of the country. The number of tourists to Iceland has soared from half a million to more than 2 million in just a decade.
Unlike other countries, with the population of 364,134 people, Iceland may not able to use the domestic stimulus package or similar for locals. Thus, bringing in visitors is one of the key solutions to revive the travel industry hit hard by the pandemic.
After controlling the spread of Corona virus well, the government decided to open its border to tourists from EU/EEA, UK, Canada and other 14 non-EEA countries. One of the requirements for visitors to enter the land of hot springs and volcanoes is that they have to get tested for Corona virus upon arrival. The tests are done at Keflavik International Airport; and travellers will receive the results on the same day. While waiting for the results of the test, travellers will be allowed to travel to the attractions. However, those testing positive will be required to quarantine for 14 days, otherwise, those with negative results will enjoy visiting the country as normal without any restrictions. Currently, a single test for COVID-19 at pre-registration costs 9,000 ISK (60 EUR), but 11,000 ISK (70 EUR) paid upon arrival.
One of the latest updates that travellers from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Germany are exempt from testing COVID-19 upon arrival starting from 16 July. It is expected that there will be more countries are allowed to visit Iceland without testing in the upcoming months.
"It is logical for us to start by looking at these four countries as they represent almost half of the inbound flights to Iceland. Hopefully, we can soon invite travellers from other countries to enter without border screening," says Thordis Kolbrun R Gylfadóttir, Minister of Tourism.
According to many local tour operators in Iceland, those who make the trip to Iceland at the moment will surely get some advantages. This period of time is normally the highest season in the year, so it is supposed to be full of tourists, but for now most of the well-known attractions are pretty empty. Thus, visitors are able to explore breath-taking sceneries in Iceland comfortably and freely.
- Government of Iceland (2020) 'Travellers from Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Germany to be exempt from screening and quarantine requirements'. [Online]. Available at: https://www.government.is/news/article/2020/07/14/Travellers-from-Denmark-Norway-Finland-and-Germany-to-be-exempt-from-screening-and-quarantine-requirements/ (Accessed: 22.07.2020).
- Max Foster and Mick Krever (2020) '', CNN, Iceland now feels like the coronavirus never happened (Accessed: 22.07.2020)