Iceland yesterday opened its borders for all visitors and tourists who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
This decision comes as the country seeks to attract more tourists to help revive its coronavirus-hit economy.
The North Atlantic country, which has become one of the first to open its borders since the beginning of the pandemic, saw tourist numbers plummet by 75% last year to just under half a million, causing its economy to contract by 6.6%.
Open for vaccinated visitors
In a bid to boost tourism, the government confirmed that from this week, those who’ve had both doses of a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency can enter the country without needing to get tested for coronavirus or undergo quarantine.
The Icelandic government in a statement on 16th March said:
The Icelandic government has announced that all those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to travel to Iceland without being subject to border measures, such as testing and quarantine.
Iceland’s government had already allowed vaccinated travellers from the European Union to enter without quarantine, but the new decision means that visitors from its main tourist destinations of the United States and United Kingdom will be allowed to enter.
Katrin Jakobsdottir, Prime Minister, Iceland, said:
The world has been through a lot in the past 12 months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy. This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise.
Visitors to Iceland will have to show proof of full vaccination from a jab that has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, which currently excludes vaccines from China — a significant source of tourists to the country — as well as Russia’s Sputnik V.
Countries are beginning to open up to tourists
Poland, Romania, Estonia, Georgia, Madeira and Seychelles are all currently letting in or will let in vaccinated visitors without the need of quarantining. Meanwhile, many countries have pledged to reopen borders without the visitors requiring to quarantine this spring and summer.
Greece will open to tourists from 14th May, the Greek Tourism Minister has said – as long as they provide proof of full vaccination, COVID-19 antibodies, or a negative test to enter.
Haris Theocharis, speaking at the International Tourism Fair ITB Berlin on 9th March said that the country was ‘more than optimistic’ and ‘ready’ to receive visitors. He said:
We aim to open tourism by 14 May, with specific rules and updated protocols. Until then, we will gradually lift the restrictions if conditions allow.
He also added that those working in the Greek tourism industry would be prioritised for vaccination after the vulnerable.
Madeira, an archipelago and autonomous region of Portugal is launching a ‘green corridor’ for arrivals who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
Tourists who can prove vaccination or recovery will no longer have to provide a negative COVID test.
To be eligible for this , tourists must prove their status through one of two documents: proof of COVID-19 recovery in the last 90 days, validated by the respective country of origin, stating the name, date of birth, health number, type and date of the test and explicit mention of ‘recovered’; or the official vaccination certificate, including the date of the two doses taken and respect for the immunisation period according to instructions for each vaccine.
Documentation in English must be submitted to the ‘Madeirasafe.com’ app prior to arrival.
Cyprus became the first European Union Member State in December to announce that it was planning to scrap the entry requirements like testing and quarantine for travellers who are vaccinated against COVID-19.
The government of Cyprus has now that British nationals who have been vaccinated can enter the country without the need of quarantine or presenting a COVID-19 negative test from 1st May.
Belize has become the first Caribbean country to welcome in vaccinated travellers without a requirement to present a negative COVID-19 test.
Visitors who will present certification that they have had both jabs of an approved vaccine at least two weeks before entering the country will no longer have to get tested before entering the country.
Visitors must download the Belize Health App and add all required information within 72 hours before arriving in Belize.
Note that non-vaccinated travellers are still allowed to enter Belize, but must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours of travel or a rapid antigen test taken within 48 hours of travel.
Poland has lifted the quarantine requirements for travellers who have received both the jabs of the COVID-19 vaccine, meaning that the visitors who are travelling from abroad and who can provide proof of both jabs will not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
The travellers who can show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours before crossing the Polish border, can also bypass the restrictions.
Estonia has exempted the quarantine requirements for travellers who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have recovered from the virus.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs currently imposes 10 days of quarantine on arrivals from abroad, with exceptions made only for low-risk European countries – Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Iceland and Norway.
Arrivals from the United Kingdom are required to spend two weeks in self-isolation – though this can be halved by taking a free Covid test after seven days.
The ministry said:
Starting from 1 February, the 10-day self-isolation and Covid-19 testing are not mandatory for individuals, including those arriving from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or a third country, who: (1) have suffered from Covid-19 and no more than six months have passed since they have been declared cured; (2) have undergone Covid-19 vaccination and no more than six months have passed since its completion.
According to the Foreign Office, proof of recovering from COVID-19 should be a doctor’s certificate that includes the time, location, methodology and result of the analysis, as well as the details of ‘the institution that conducted the analysis’.
As of 1st February, all international tourists can enter Georgia (the country, not the US state) as long as they have received both doses of their Covid-19 vaccine and can provide proof.
Georgia has become the first country in the world to fully remove entry restrictions for vaccinated passengers – no testing pre-departure, no testing on arrival, and no quarantine.
According to Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘As for foreign visitors, they will be able to enter Georgia unconditionally if they submit a full course of any type of covid-vaccine, which means two full doses, if they present a document at the border’.
Georgia has had an international flight ban in place for most of the world since May 2020, but this ban has also been lifted from 1st February, allowing various airlines to resume flights.
Romania has announced that travellers who have received both doses of the coronavirus vaccine will not need to quarantine on arrival, effective 21st January,2021.
In a document issued, the country’s National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU) announced that people coming from countries or areas of high epidemiological risk, or who have come into direct contact with someone who’s tested positive for Covid, are exempt from quarantine measures if they are fully vaccinated.
That means they’ve had two doses of the vaccine, and at least 10 days have passed since the second dose was administered before arrival into Romania.
Incoming visitors will need to show proof of this through a ‘document issued by the health unit which administered it, from Romania or from abroad’. There’s no indication which of the vaccines will be acceptable.
The changes will apply to visitors from the United Kingdom, who have up to now been required to quarantine 14 days as well as show evidence of a negative Covid test (either PCR or antigen test accepted) taken within 48 hours of travel.
For information on the opening of Seychelles to visitors and tourists, refer this detailed post.