What happens if a tourist tests positive? It’s the question that has plagued us ever since the Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, announced that COVID-19 screenings would be carried out at Keflavik airport from June 15th to allow the country to re-open to tourism.
In a Vísir interview this morning Justice Minister Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir gave some clues as to the answer.
According to Áslaug Arna, many hotels will need to set up ‘isolation corridors’ to house tourists who test positive for the virus. Tourists will be able to isolate in the hotel they had booked until they have recovered and can safely return home. Alternatively tourists will have access to government isolation hotels.
Tourists will be able to interact with the Icelandic health service through an app and attend outpatient clinics if they become more seriously ill.
As reported, the government will finance COVID-19 screenings for tourists at first. This is estimated to cost 50 million ISK per day. It is not clear if the state will also shoulder the cost of accommodating isolating tourists.
The government’s decision to re-open the country has met some criticism from Icelandic doctors, but Áslaug Arna stressed that the health authorities are treading carefully when it comes to lifting COVID-19 restrictions. She also explained that the move is vital for Iceland’s tourism-dependent economy – “the fact is that we have to open, the economy offers nothing else.”
Initially all arrivals in Iceland will be screened for the virus, but if very few cases are detected authorities may switch to targeted testing. According to Áslaug Arna, there is a possibility that only people coming from high-risk countries may be tested in the future.
No new COVID-19 cases were detected in Iceland yesterday, meaning there are currently three active infections.
Note: Due to the effect the Coronavirus is having on tourism in Iceland, it’s become increasingly difficult for the Grapevine to survive. If you enjoy our content and want to help the Grapevine’s journalists do things like eat and pay rent, please consider joining our High Five Club.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!