Iceland is loosening travel restrictions on its borders as of this week, according to reports from Iceland government offices, making things especially easy for travelers who have been vaccinated.
The Icelandic government now says that all those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine. Until now, this exemption has only applied to those presenting certificates from the EU/EEA Area. Now, however, anyone who can provide proof of a full vaccination with a vaccine that has been certified for use by the European Medical Agency as well as by requirements defined by the Chief Epidemiologist of Iceland and Icelandic regulations can enter freely. Certificates from the World Health Organization (WHO) (the International Certificate of Vaccination or the Carte Jaune/Yellow Card) are also accepted.
The new ruling also applies to those who can provide valid proof of prior infection. However, documentation on prior infections must be in accordance with the requirements defined by the Chief Epidemiologist.
“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. This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. The decision to apply border exemptions for vaccinated individuals to countries outside the EU/EEA area is a logical extension of our current policy,” says Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland.
Iceland has maintained a policy of exempting EU/EEA citizens with prior infection, as well as those who are fully vaccinated, from all border measures. “Our experience and data so far indicate very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection. When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of the location where the jab is administered. Our experience shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible.” says Thórólfur Gudnason Chief Epidemiologist.
Color Coded Testing and Entry
Starting in May, Iceland will use a risk assessment color code at the border. From that time travelers from low-risk areas (green and yellow) will be exempt from quarantine measures if they present a negative PCR result at the border.
Since last month, a negative PCR test has been required prior to departure when traveling to Iceland. Additionally, a PCR test is mandatory at the border followed by a five-day quarantine and a second test. Vaccinated individuals and those with prior infection are exempt from the measures.
Currently, Iceland has only some 30 individuals in isolation with Covid infection; 24 people are in quarantine due to suspected exposure. No one is hospitalized a present due to COVID-19 in Iceland.
Unfortunately, travel to Iceland from outside the EEA/Schengen area is still restricted. However, regulation is underway to allow non-essential travel from outside the EEA/Schengen-area for passengers who can provide valid proof of vaccination or prior infection, in addition to those on essential business. This regulation is expected to come into effect later this month.
Business in Iceland
The news is good for companies that are finding Iceland to be the perfect place to set up remote offices and work labs. According to David Rafn Kristjansson, CEO of Swapp Agency, a company that provides recruitment, employer of record and legal services for international firms seeking to establish remote employees or a business presence in Iceland, the country is seeing an uptick in international business interest during Covid as it is a small nation of 350,000 that is relatively safe and secure with a highly educated and motivated workforce. In addition, Iceland boasts clean air and water and has one of the highest standards of living in the world, with almost free education and health care.
Some companies are attracted to opportunities in Iceland, such as the clean renewable energy sector and the opening of the seaway in the Arctic due to climate change. Before COVID more than two million tourists were visiting the island annually, which also attracted attention from foreign investors.
Labor rules in Iceland can be complicated so an agency that does all the hard work is in demand. “Companies came to us because they needed an office in Iceland to put the employees on payroll. We hired the employees, put them on salary and then invoiced the company abroad. Doing this is not always as simple as it sounds. There’s all kinds of rules, regulations and tax agreements between countries that we have to bear in mind when making contracts with companies,” said Kristjansson.
Kristjansson believes that we are at just the beginning of how technology will completely revolutionize the future of work. He imagines that people might even exchange jobs in the future. Maybe a chef in Denmark will swap jobs with a chef in Iceland for a year. Technology has made this possible and has shaken up the HR world.
“Just ten years ago, if you were thinking about moving to Iceland, you would need to also find a job here, too,” said Kristjansson. “But that’s all changed. Now you can live here and work for anyone in the world, thanks to technology.”