United States and United Kingdom nationals will now be allowed to enter Iceland from 18 March 2021, according to a series of announcements made by Icelandic authorities.
From 18 March 2018, people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 with an EU-certified vaccine, which includes the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Iceland will also allow US and UK nationals that can provide empirical evidence of prior infection to enter the country.
The new measures come as the country marks its one-year anniversary of closing its borders to the rest of the world and is now looking forward to opening back up.
“The world has been through a lot in the past twelve months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement. She continued, “This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise.”
Icelandic citizens have previously raised concerns over the country’s former policy of only allowing vaccinated EU, EEA, and Schengen citizens to enter; the logic being that if people are receiving the same vaccines, it should make no difference where the vaccine is administered.
There are still concerns about non-EU certified vaccines, however. These concerns include Russian and Chinese vaccines, which are not EU-certified and may still pose a health risk.
As a result of the prolonged border closures and strict restrictions, tourism to the country fell by 75% in 2020, causing the Icelandic economy to contract by 6.6%, a very large number in economic movement.
As a result of this large economic contraction and suffering of the travel and tourism industry in Iceland, many are very much looking forward to opening the borders to third country nationals for previously non-essential purposes.
“We are excited to safely reopen our borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens, as well as those who are no longer susceptible to the virus,” Sigríður Dögg Guðmundsdóttir, head of Visit Iceland, said in a press statement.
“Tourism is a very valuable industry for Iceland, as it contributes to our economy and culture. With the support of approved vaccines, the targeted measures taken by Icelandic officials, experts, scientists and the general population to continuously keep the infection rate down, as well as a focused reopening plan designed to keep the Icelandic people and tourists healthy, we are now able to safely extend an exemption to U.S. travelers,” Guðmundsdóttir continued.
Previously, Iceland had only allowed nationals from the EU, Schengen Area, and EEA to enter, given that they: show a negative PCR test prior to departure; produce a negative PCR test at the border; undergo a 5-day quarantine; and finally produce a third negative PCR test after quarantine before being allowed to enter the country.
Currently there have been no such measures have been announced since the introduction and certification of vaccines against COVID-19 and the gradual re-opening of Iceland’s external borders.