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18 Mar, 2021 16:54

‘Risk of transmission negligible’: Iceland opens borders to tourists vaccinated against Covid-19

‘Risk of transmission negligible’: Iceland opens borders to tourists vaccinated against Covid-19

Iceland has become one of the first countries in the world to let in foreign visitors without mandatory quarantine or Covid-19 testing upon arrival since the pandemic hit. However, only vaccinated tourists are welcome.

The North Atlantic nation, whose economy relies heavily on its tourism industry, has fully opened its borders to those vaccinated against Covid-19. Starting March 18, citizens from outside the Schengen area, including from the US and UK, may enter Iceland and travel around freely without restrictions, having first presented proof of inoculation.

Previously, only vaccinated visitors from the EU could enter without limitations.

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“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,” Prime Minister Katrin Jacobsdottir said in a statement. 

Not all vaccines will be accepted, however. The easing applies only to those who have been injected with jabs certified by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), meaning those made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson. That excludes Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s shots.

The number of tourists visiting Iceland plummeted by 75% in 2020, the biggest decline in years. 

“Our experience shows that the risk of infection from vaccinated individuals is very small or negligible,” chief epidemiologist Thorolfur Gudnason said.

Earlier this week, the EU came up with a proposal to create a Digital Green Certificate that would allow people to move freely within its member states. China has also announced plans to allow foreigners into the country if they have been vaccinated with a Beijing-made jab. 

Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal may now also be added to travel lists for the upcoming summer season, as authorities in those countries have pledged to reopen borders and cancel quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors.

Still, 32% of destinations worldwide are completely closed for global tourism thanks to the ongoing pandemic, according to the latest data from the United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). 

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