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Iceland drops all domestic COVID-19 restrictions as it reaches vaccine milestone

Iceland has achieved a pandemic milestone: becoming the first country in Europe to drop all domestic restrictions on dealing with COVID-19, and easing further restrictions at its borders.

Iceland’s vaccination program and guiding principles of test, trace, quarantine and isolation have paid off, as it became the first country in Europe to drop all COVID-related restrictions at midnight on Saturday, June 26. Social distancing, mask-wearing, and limits on gatherings and opening hours were scrapped as it was announced that 87% of the adult population has received at least one dose of a vaccine in Iceland, and about 60% are fully vaccinated.

“Continuous and honest communication between the people and our trusted scientists have contributed mightily to the population’s willingness to take part in the effort to minimize the harms of the pandemic,” said Minister of Health Svandís Svavarsdóttir. “There has been a focus on maintaining a proper level of vigilance, without either downplaying or exaggerating the risk. We are succeeding by trusting the good sense of the Icelandic people.”

From July 1, Iceland will further loosen restrictions at its borders. Travelers presenting an approved digital or paper vaccination certificate from any country are now exempt from official border restrictions and are not obliged to undergo screening or to test negative for the virus when arriving in the country. Children under 16 and travelers who can show proof of recovery from COVID-19 (a health certificate) are also free to enter Iceland without having to submit a negative COVID test result, or undergo screening or quarantine.

Unvaccinated travellers will still be required to undergo testing and five-day quarantine upon entering the country.

“We fully expect that we will continue to detect cases and that small clusters of infection may appear. But we are confident that our contact tracing capabilities, with the public’s willingness to abide by both quarantine and isolation requirements, will prove sufficient to handle any new outbreaks,” said Víðir Reynisson, Iceland’s Head of Civil Protection.

Further information on vaccinations, quarantine and the country’s entry regulations are available from the Government of Iceland’s official website here.

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