While almost every country in the world currently has some form of entry restriction (including Canada), Iceland has just provided some hope to travelers. The beautiful Northern European island-nation has announced it will be reopening to international travelers on June 15th, in less than a month.
While there are a few caveats, it is still very encouraging news, at least for those of you who are eager to get back to traveling like me (boy do I miss traveling).
By the way, we’ll cover everything you need to know about eventually restarting to travel, like a map of which countries are open and much more.
Important note about traveling now
Of course, it’s still too early to travel again now.
But sooner or later, many will travel again. Some people seem to think that everyone will wait for a vaccine, but I personally think that there’s no chance at all that all travelers will wait that long. None whatsoever. That won’t happen.
So… when can we travel?
That will all depend on every traveler’s own situation, and on many other factors that we’ll talk more about that in the coming weeks. It will also obviously depend on how the situation evolves—not just here, but especially in other countries—and we’ll help you sort through all of that.
But first, a pretty major consideration is that currently, countries simply will not let travelers in. Borders are closed.
That will no longer be the case in Iceland very soon.
The news is pretty straightforward: Iceland plans to welcome international travelers starting June 15.
We’ll see how it goes, but either way, it will provide a great case study for other nations.
As you would expect, they are doing this because they believe it can be done safely, and are planning special measures to do it safely.
That means that, upon arrival in Reykjavík (KEF), every traveler will have 3 options:
- taking a COVID-19 test
- providing a certificate of a recent negative COVID-19 test
- going into quarantine for 14 days
That actually seems very promising. The major caveat is that it still hasn’t been decided whether Iceland or the traveler will be paying for the test. That is major. In Austria, Vienna Airport (VIE) has begun offering same-day tests on arrival on May 4th, but travelers must pay for it. They cost €190 (≈C$290), so it’s a huge amount of money.
That’s literally enough to pay for 10 full days of travel in many Southeast Asia countries among others, so it’s a big issue for budget travelers. But then again, budget travelers should probably avoid Iceland anyway—even if it were the only destination open—since it’s one of the world’s most expensive countries.
Anyway, that detail about who will pay the test is a very important one. If the government subsidizes it to attract travelers, it’s a much more appealing proposition than if they don’t. We’ll monitor the situation and keep you posted (again; sign up for free).
Iceland is seriously considering paying for a part of the cost at least. The country needs travelers more than most other destinations: as much as 40% of their economy depends on tourism. The percentage is much lower than that in Sicily, and that island is planning to pay for flights and hotels, so Iceland paying for tests is not out of the realm of possibility at all.
If your test is negative, you won’t have to do the quarantine and can visit the country almost as you would have before the coronavirus.
It makes sense that Iceland would be one of the first countries to reopen (and not just because of the importance of tourism to their economy): it is a perfect place to visit in our current predicament.
Iceland is all about the big spaces and the outdoors. Nothing inside and nothing with crowds. It only has 300,000 inhabitants and there is plenty of room for physical distancing while admiring volcanoes, black sand beaches, waterfalls, and many other wonders of nature.
The only other special measure is that the government says “travelers will likely be required to download and use the official tracing app already in use by 40% of the population in Iceland.”
We’d love to know what you think of Iceland reopening, and what your thoughts are on future travel. Are you getting more optimistic when you see news like this out of Iceland? Or not?
By the way, Iceland has done very well at containing the coronavirus, much better than we have in Canada. They only have 10 active cases.
To put that into perspective, these days Quebec alone has more deaths every 3 hours than Iceland has in total cases. Iceland has tested an impressive 15% of the population (it’s ≈3% in Canada, although of course our population is a lot higher). In Iceland, gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, and that is supposed to be increased to 100 in a week.
That’s why I am among those who are definitely keeping an open mind about traveling sooner rather than later.
We must, of course, wait for it to be “responsible” to travel again. But my point is that determining when it’s responsible must not be done only through the lens of our situation here in Canada and should take into consideration the very different realities in other countries too.
Why? Our situation in Canada is objectively worse than in 75% of countries around the world, based on cases per capita (according to official numbers, however imperfect they could be). That leaves well over a hundred countries where the situation could get a lot better soon with a bit of luck.
If you are like me and are willing to go into a 14-day quarantine when returning to Canada, there’s definitely a reason for some cautious optimism!
Flytrippers will be your go-to source of information for everything Canadian travelers need to know to start traveling again, whenever that is for you.
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Iceland will be reopening to international travelers on June 15th. It’s very encouraging to see that travel is starting back up again in some places, and we’ll monitor the situation to see how things evolve for all of us Canadian travelers.
What do you think of Iceland reopening? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: Iceland (photo credit: Robert Lukeman)
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