Iceland ends quarantine on arrival, mirroring Iata’s stand
From June 15, the 14 day-quarantine will not be mandatory for passengers arriving at Keflavík International Airport in Iceland. Instead, tourists and Icelandic residents entering the country will be given the option of being screened for the novel coronavirus. This mirrors International Air Transport Association’s (Iata) stand on quarantine measures.
After being screened at the airport, passengers arriving in Iceland will go to their overnight accommodations, where they await the results. In addition, every arriving passenger will be asked to download the Covid-19 tracing app ‘Rakning C-19’, which helps authorities trace the origin of transmissions.
“Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us”
– Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir
Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Innovation, says: "When travellers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic. Iceland's strategy of large-scale testing, tracing and isolating have proven effective so far. We want to build on that experience of creating a safe place for those who want a change of scenery after what has been a tough spring for all of us."
The proposed border opening depends on the continued decline of cases in Iceland. Authorities stated the new steps could also be implemented earlier than June 15 if preparations go well, and the number of cases remains low. The testing may be used toward further research of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19).
IATA OPPOSES QUARANTINES
The International Air Transport Association (Iata) released new analysis showing that the damage to air travel from Covid-19 extends into the medium-term, with long-haul/ international travel being the most severely impacted. Quarantine measures on arrival would further damage confidence in air travel. A risk-based layered approach of globally harmonised biosecurity measures is critical for the restart.
On May 13, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, said: “This week, we have seen the UK announce a mandatory 14-day quarantine as part of its plans when easing its lockdown. There are few details about how long and under what conditions. Similarly, Spain announced a 14-day quarantine measures on arrival would be in place there until at least 24 May and possible longer.”
The UK has since defined certain parameters – for instance, people arriving from low-risk nations may not be quarantined – as the situation is evolving rapidly.
Alexandre de Juniac said: “International travel cannot restart under such conditions. In a recent survey that we did in 11 markets, 84 per cent of travellers said that quarantine measures was one of their top concerns, and 69 per cent essentially said that they would not return to travel under such conditions.”
“Our top priority is to restart this industry safely. We are proposing a series of measures that we believe will give governments the confidence to re-open their borders. It is a risk-based layered approach to biosecurity that needs to be coordinated globally. That’s important. The arriving country must be confident of the procedures in place at the departing airport. And travellers will need the reassurance of common measures.
“In the risk-based layered system that we are proposing there are temperature checks and other measures at departure to keep symptomatic travellers from flying. And a robust government managed system of health declarations and rigorous contact tracing can manage the risk form asymptomatic travellers.
“We oppose quarantine measures because the combination of these measures, if well-implemented globally, can manage the risks.
“We are working with ICAO and other stakeholders to put in place an agreed risk-based layered system quickly to safely and efficiently restore global connectivity.”