First holiday country plans quarantine-free entry for tourists who are not vaccinated

Iceland has by far the lowest number of new corona infections in Europe. The island is now planning quarantine-free entry for tourists who have not yet been vaccinated.

Reykjavik – Iceland is Europe’s answer to New Zealand *, and this has recently not only been the case for its green landscapes and natural wonders. Like the New Zealanders on the other side of the earth, the Icelanders have come to grips with the coronavirus pandemic more than few other countries. The fact that the Viking people, with their low number of new infections, is currently the undisputed best of their class in Europe, is partly due to the isolated situation – as is the case with the Kiwis in Down Under – but also to a stringent strategy.

Corona measures in Iceland are having an effect

“Our fight against the pandemic went better than we might have expected,” said Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of the German press agency. The Icelandic way with comprehensive corona tests and test results within a few hours, consistent contact tracing and strict quarantine and isolation rules may have shown better results than the strict measures taken in other countries. “That is the key to our success: the easy access to tests for people, the tracking of infections and the scientific approach,” says the head of government.

This strategy is reflected in extremely low numbers of new infections. After peaking in mid-October, the values ​​fell rapidly. Aside from a few positive reviews from travelers after their arrival, Iceland had last six days in a row without a domestic corona case experienced.

With just once 6.59 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the first two weeks of February Iceland is unrivaled in the comparative figures of the EU health authority ECDC. Even the other northern Europeans Norway (66), Finland (88) and Denmark (100) – behind Iceland, the countries with the lowest numbers in the European Economic Area – are many times higher. Iceland’s coronavirus-related deaths in the period: zero.

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Iceland in the corona pandemic: That’s why the country is doing so well today

Now it can be said that Iceland, with its isolated location in the North Atlantic, has a clear advantage and can only be compared with larger countries to a limited extent – after all, the island has only 360,000 inhabitants and thus about as many as Bochum or Wuppertal. The success is based not only on the location and size of the country, but also on the strict procedures, tests, contact tracing and a high degree of trust of the population in their experts.

It goes without saying that border controls are much easier for Iceland than for others: Germany borders on nine countries and has several international airports; Iceland can be reached almost exclusively via Keflavik Airport near Reykjavik. Whoever enters has to have one since Friday negative, maximum 72 hours old PCR test submit. There is also a corona test on arrival, five to six days of quarantine and another test after the quarantine period.

The quarantine is an important component of the Icelandic corona strategy anyway: Everyone who has had contact with an infected person has to endure it. For comparison: So far, around 6,000 people in Iceland have tested positive for the corona virus – but just under 46,000 were temporarily in quarantine.

And then there is that Trust in the experts. Chief epidemiologist Thórólfur Gudnason, civil protection director Vidir Reynisson and health director Alma Möller are often referred to as the “Trinity” – and despite the strict restrictions on public life, most Icelanders have followed their guidelines. For this they were rewarded with certain relaxation: pubs were allowed to reopen this month, from this Wednesday up to 200 spectators are again allowed in the football stadium, theater and cinema as well as at other sports and cultural events; the maximum number of meetings will be increased from 20 to 50. Swimming pools and gyms can now reach up to 75 percent of their maximum capacity, as Health Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir announced on Tuesday.

The Icelanders remain vigilant, however. Epidemiologist Gudnason had already stressed last week, despite the good situation, that further easing would have to take place slowly and carefully. “I don’t think the virus went away in Iceland. I’m worried that it might be hiding somewhere. “

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Iceland vacation soon also possible for non-vaccinated people? These are the government’s plans

The entry requirements are meanwhile a means to make Iceland one for the tourism branch An important balancing act: letting holidaymakers back into the country, but not new infection drivers. One step in this direction is that travelers can free themselves from testing and quarantine if they can prove that they have survived an infection or have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The tourism sector, which is so important for Iceland, experienced a drastic decline in 2020: The number of foreign holidaymakers fell by 76 percent to below 500,000. Will things look up again in 2021? “I’m optimistic in the long run. We expect a certain number of tourists, but we don’t know if that will happen, ”says Prime Minister Jakobsdóttir. Ultimately, it depends on how quickly the vaccinations are going in Iceland and in other countries.

A new entry system is now planned from May 1 that could free travelers from countries with a lower risk of infection from quarantine. The industry understands that tourism in Iceland cannot continue without restrictions from now on. “It’s not about“ the sooner the better ”, says the head of the state tourism authority Visit Iceland, Sigrídur Dögg Gudmundsdóttir. “It’s about“ the safer, the better ”. (dpa) * Merkur.de is part of the nationwide Ippen digital editorial network.

also read: Italy and Austria far behind: This holiday destination is more popular with Germans than ever.

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Rubriklistenbild: © imago-images

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