Industries in Depth

Iceland will reopen tourism for June 15, with mandatory COVID-19 tests on arrival

Bathers enjoy the warm volcanic hot springs of the Blue Lagoon in Grindavik, Iceland, March 6, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC2KEF99UT8I

A visit to Iceland's Blue Lagoon is a dream destination for many people. Image: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

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  • Iceland's prime minister has announced plans to reopen the country's borders to tourists by June 15.
  • The country plans to allow travelers to avoid a 14-day quarantine by taking a free COVID-19 test upon arrival at the airport, according to Lonely Planet.
  • Those who test positive would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • The decision has been made in a bid to boost Iceland's tourism industry and the economy, Matador Network reports.

The prime minister of Iceland has announced plans to reopen the country's borders to tourists by June 15.

The country is said to be planning to give travelers COVID-19 tests upon arrival at the airport — those who test negative would be free to enjoy their time in the country, but those who test positive would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Insider understands that the new border process is still being finalized and so it's not yet known whether the tests will only be free for an initial two week trial period or beyond that.

Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir announced in an official statement that travel restrictions would be loosened "no later than June 15 2020, while from May 15 some professionals arriving in Iceland including scientists, filmmakers, and athletes will be eligible for a modified quarantine," according to Lonely Planet.

Have you read?

If you can prove you're healthy with official documentation, you won't be required to undergo another test.

"It's very important to be able to have a more long-term view of things than we've been able to until now," Bjarnheiour Hallsdottir, the chair of the Icelandic Travel Industry Association, told RUV, reported by the Reykjavik Grapevine.

"I believe that if everything goes well, we should see some tourists here this summer. For those who want to come, this will be a very real possibility."

At the moment, only travelers with Schengen region passports are allowed to enter Iceland, and everyone must self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

The current restrictions have been in place since March 15, Matador Network reports, and the driving force behind the easing is a desire to restart the tourism industry to boost the economy.

Icelandair is said to be struggling with flights at an all-time low and 3,000 staff members having been laid off.

"There is a lot at stake that Icelandair continues operations, and it's in reality a life-or-death question for tourism in Iceland," Hallsdottir said.

"Hopefully people realize that the situation isn't just about Icelandair but tourism in Iceland as a whole, and not just tourism but the economy and our whole society."

iceland travel aviation airport transport tourism economy industry isolation coronavirus covid19 health
The Blue Lagoon at sunrise. Image: Getty/Elka Photos

Iceland, which has a population of about 364,000, has had just 1,803 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 10 related deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data.

About 38% of the country's inhabitants have downloaded its COVID-19 tracing app, and any visitors this summer would probably be required to do so too.

As Business Insider's Isobel Asher Hamilton previously reported, this makes Iceland's download rate of a contagion-tracking app the best in the world.

Detective Inspector Gestur Palmason from the Icelandic Police has said, however, that the app is effective only when combined with manual contact tracing.

"When travelers return to Iceland we want to have all mechanisms in place to safeguard them and the progress made in controlling the pandemic," said Thordis Kolbrun Reykfjord Gylfadottir, the minister of tourism, industry and innovation, per Lonely Planet.

"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."

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