Text by: Agata Ryszkowska
Breathe in, breathe out.
We’ve finally come to the place when it’s actually safe to leave our countries for reasons that are not based on essential travel. Iceland worked out a pretty effective system which led to quick suppression of the virus. Although the borders were never actually closed, the air traffic got temporarily put on hold. The Icelandic government reacted quickly to the escalating problem; on March 24th it prohibited gatherings that include more than 20 people, all of the public spaces such gyms, swimming pools or museums got closed as well as hairdressing salons etc. You could see hand sanitizers in every possible space and it obviously was highly encouraged to use them as often as possible. Most of the people practised self-isolation for as long as they could although lots of restaurants or coffee shops remained open they also met the requirements of keeping 2 meters distance from each other.
As the situation was slowly getting better, the authorities started to lift the restrictions. Lots of companies were forced to lay off their employees, especially those tightly connected to tourism such as IcelandAir or Blue Lagoon. In order to keep the cash flow, lots of businesses started to offer discounts to encourage Icelanders to travel their own country, which is not so obvious as Icelanders love to fly abroad multiple times a year especially to much warmer countries. Some of them are often put off by a large number of tourists so it seemed like a perfect time to take time to appreciate the nature that they have around them.
COVID-19 rules in Iceland
After a few months on June 15th it finally became possible to travel to Iceland. The country had to come up with a system that could successfully prevent the virus spreading. Each passenger has to be tested right away at the airport and is advised to self isolate while waiting for the results to come which can take up from several hours to one day. Detailed information can be found on official Icelandic website dedicated to COVID-19 https://www.covid.is/english and it’s highly advised to get to know them before getting to Iceland. The test was free of charge until July 1st but now it costs 9 000 ISK if you decide to pre-register or 11 000 ISK if you don’t. Again, please visit the link above to get to know the rules better, how to behave and what to do in case if the test turns out to be positive. Watching this video on YouTube is also a very wholesome source of information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6Gt6jWavcA&feature=emb_title. If you happen to be tested positive, you’re going to be asked to isolate as quickly as possible. If you can’t afford or simply don’t have anywhere to stay for the requested period, you’ll be provided with free accommodation in an isolation centre. You can contact a doctor anytime via rakning C-19 app, which was developed to help control the virus spread. This may seem a lot, but believe me – Iceland is worth going through all these paperwork.
It’s (nearly) perfect time to visit Iceland
Iceland is open to the majority of the Schengen area countries, but it is recommended thinking it very thoroughly if it’s a good time to travel anywhere. Even though the virus is still being active, the countries were eager to take a risk of opening the borders for economic reasons. It’s very individual if you think it’s good or bad to travel during this uncertain time but if you decide to go for it, Iceland’s might be a perfect choice.
There are only about 364 000 people living in Iceland. If you decide to cut Reykjavik out of your itinerary, there’s a large possibility that you’re not going to meet lots of people along the way. It’s super easy to keep a distance from others even while visiting the most famous landmarks as they’re nowhere near as crowded as they usually are. There’s also the huge advantage of having all the views mostly to yourself. There’s actually a very small risk of getting sick but it’s not impossible. For the sake of your and others health, it’s best to act as if it is highly possible to come to contact with an infected person.
Since the number of visitors is down by a good amount, the companies have to attract customers in order to stay in business. As mentioned before, the discounts were directed to Icelanders at first but you can still make a good use out of them. It’s wise to join the group on Facebook created especially for traveling around Iceland in 2020; it includes the most up to date info, various discounts and offers. Iceland is definitely on the more expensive side for most of the tourists so why not make use out of that?
With all the system and border crossing procedures you can feel quite confident about coming to Iceland. You’ll be quickly informed about the infection and about the possible contact with an infected person. To make work easier to the authorities it’s best to download the Rakning C-19 app available both in Google Play and Apple store. Remember: travel responsibly and stay safe!