Iceland will open its borders to vaccinated foreigners from Thursday, making the north Atlantic island one of many first international locations on the earth to reopen to vacationers after coronavirus.
Iceland’s authorities had already allowed vaccinated travellers from the EU to enter with out quarantine, however the brand new decision means guests from its fundamental vacationer locations of the US and UK will likely be allowed to enter.
“The world has been by means of loads up to now 12 months, and we’re all hoping for a gradual and secure return to normalcy. This additionally contains the resumption of the chance to journey, which is efficacious to tradition, commerce and enterprise,” stated Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir.
Guests to Iceland should present proof of full vaccination from a jab that has been permitted by the European Medicines Company, which at present excludes vaccines from China — a big supply of vacationers to the nation — in addition to Russia’s Sputnik V.
Tourism turned one in every of Iceland’s main industries up to now decade after guests flocked to the island following the publicity from a 2010 volcano eruption that grounded most of Europe’s air visitors for nearly every week.
The variety of vacationers to Iceland declined by three-quarters final 12 months to simply below 500,000, resulting in a fall within the island’s gross home product of 6.6 per cent in 2020, the most important decline for the reason that world monetary disaster that led to the collapse of the nation’s three fundamental banks.
Tourism leapt from representing 3.4 per cent of Iceland’s GDP in 2010 to eight per cent in 2019, earlier than falling again to three.5 per cent in 2020.
Bjarnheidur Hallsdottir, chair of the Icelandic vacationer board, hailed the reopening as “nice and necessary”, noting that 41 per cent of all lodge stays in 2019 had been from guests from the US and UK.
“That is necessary, not least as a result of the US and UK are significantly better at vaccinating their residents than EU international locations,” she added.
The European Fee will on Wednesday name for a “digital green certificate” to be created that might enable EU residents with proof of vaccination, a unfavorable Covid-19 check, or proof of restoration from the virus to journey contained in the bloc. A number of international locations have began work on their very own vaccine passports together with Denmark, which hopes to have one prepared earlier than the height summer time season. That transfer has led to protests in Copenhagen towards the certificates.
Icelandic authorities stated it made little sense to make guidelines only for the Schengen passport-free space of largely EU international locations that it belongs to.
“When individuals are protected towards the identical illness, with the identical vaccines which might be produced by the identical corporations, there is no such thing as a medical purpose to discriminate on the premise of the placement the place the jab is run,” stated chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason. “Our expertise reveals that the chance of an infection from vaccinated people could be very small or negligible.”
Iceland can also be altering its quarantine system for guests from Might 1. These arriving from international locations judged low danger by the European Centre for Illness Prevention and Management will likely be exempt from quarantine in the event that they current a unfavorable check consequence on the border.
Iceland is bracing itself for a possible volcanic eruption close to its worldwide airport, however volcanologists say it might not create ash clouds as was produced by the 2010 explosion so should not have any affect on air journey.