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Iceland now allows vaccinated travellers to avoid testing and quarantine

A trickle of countries is now permitting certain vaccinated travellers to avoid quarantines, and the travel industry is watching very closely

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The Northern Lights appear over Mount Kirkjufell in Iceland. Photo: Deposit

The Northern Lights appear over Mount Kirkjufell in Iceland. Photo: Deposit

The Northern Lights appear over Mount Kirkjufell in Iceland. Photo: Deposit

Iceland has long had some of the toughest travel restrictions in Europe, with all passengers obliged to pre-register, take two Covid-19 tests after arrival, and quarantine between them.

Travellers from the EEA and Switzerland who can prove they have been vaccinated, however, are now exempted from both testing and quarantine requirements.

Such passengers need to show an approved digital or paper vaccination certificate in Icelandic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish or English.

It must show where, when and what vaccines were received, as well as the manufacturer and batch lot, and will be examined by Border Control officials.

At present, only vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) are accepted - i.e. the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, both of which require two doses.

Both doses must have been completed to avail of the exemptions, says the Icelandic Directorate of Health.

"If a passenger presents a document that is deemed invalid, i.e. if any of the necessary requirements are missing, the passenger must, as other arrival passengers, undergo double testing with quarantine in between," it adds.

Covid-19 vaccinations registered in the WHO's International Certificate of Vaccination (the Carte Jaune or Yellow Card) are not acceptable.

The Seychelles has also announced that vaccinated travellers can bypass its quarantine requirements, though they must still test negative.

Romania will also exempt people who have been vaccinated from its quarantine regime, so long as at least 10 days have passed from the second dose, according to its National Committee for Emergency Situations.

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Cyprus has flagged that it may go a similar route from March 1, according to the Cyprus Mail, as part of a general plan for rebooting air travel and tourism.

The moves provide tantalising clues as to how travel might recover, raising the prospect of vaccinations as a golden ticket to get moving again.

As vaccination programmes begin to roll out around the world, however - many of them plagued by early delays - debates are growing as to whether so-called 'vaccine passports' should be a requirement for travel.

It remains unclear whether vaccinations prevent transmission of the virus, how any 'passport' system may be co-ordinated, and whether it would discriminate against those who cannot, or choose not, to be vaccinated.

Ireland further tightened its travel regulations yesterday, and is seeking to establish quarantine hotels for some arrivals, but has no imminent plans to introduce exemptions for vaccinated travellers.

Iceland's travel rules currently require one test at the border, and a second five days later. The quarantine is lifted when a negative result (virus not detected) is obtained from the second testing.

Certificates of vaccinations do not exempt people from local travel restrictions on the ground, however, and the new rules do not apply to travellers from outside of the EEA and Switzerland.


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