Iceland Becomes First European Country to Reopen to Vaccinated Tourists

Travelers from the US and UK will be able to forego testing protocols once inoculated

Kirkjufell, Iceland
Kirkjufell, Iceland
Joshua Earle

Iceland has opened its borders to vaccinated travelers coming from both the U.S. and U.K., allowing them to forego both quarantine and COVID testing, effective March 18. The same set of rules have also been extended to those who have recovered from the virus and, subsequently, are now in possession of antibodies. It is the first European and Schengen country to do so.

“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,” Thórólfur Gudnason, Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist, said in a statement this week.

“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.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Iceland has been closed to all tourists outside of Europe’s Schengen zone, but with tourism revenue accounting for more than 40% of Iceland’s economy pre-COVID, its no wonder that they should be among the first.

“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,” Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, said. “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.”

The decision comes after last week’s announcement that starting May 14, Greece would also be opening back up to tourists who have received the vaccine, have antibodies or tested negative in advance of their trip, and while no other European countries have expressed concrete plans to follow suit, it’s now only a matter of time.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: the way post-pandemic international travel regulations are shaping up, it’s looking to be a much safer alternative to domestic travel, and this latest development involving Iceland is no exception.

As if we needed another reason to want to get the vaccine ASAP, we can now add Greece and Iceland to the inoculated-itinerary? Say less.


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