From Iceland — First Day Of Border Opening: More Arrivals Than Expected, Police With Entry-Denial Authority

First Day Of Border Opening: More Arrivals Than Expected, Police With Entry-Denial Authority

Published June 16, 2020

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Milad A380/Wikimedia Commons

Iceland’s border with other Schengen countries is now open, as yesterday was the first day of official coronavirus screenings at Keflavík International Airport. More arrivals showed up than was expected, RÚV reports, but things went relatively smoothly. At the same time, airlines coming to Iceland are not all giving their passengers the same information, and police have been granted the power to turn away arrivals who they believe will not abide contagion guidelines.

Despite estimates that about 650 people would arrive in Keflavík International Airport yesterday, 900 people arrived instead. Not everyone was screened, as children younger than 16 are excepted.

There were reportedly some long waits, due in part to some airlines taking different procedures than others. For example, while Icelandair reportedly encouraged their passengers to fill out the form required for border screening early, other airlines waited until landing at the airport to dispense these forms. Waits were not as long as they could be, though; a great many of those who arrived were Icelanders, many of whom likely opted to go into 2-week quarantine rather than go through the screening process.

Of these arrivals, only one person was turned away—an American national who did not meet one of the exceptions to the current ban on non-Schengen nationals from entry. The American was therefore denied entry and was required to fly back to the UK, from where they previously departed.

Meanwhile, the Icelandic police now have the authority to assess individual arrivals at the border screening stations and, based on their own assessment, decide whether or not any given arrival will be likely to abide contagion guidelines. If the officer believes the individual will not abide such guidelines, the officer has the authority to turn them away at the border. This is in direct response to recent news that a group of visitors who arrived recently did not go into quarantine at the address they provided.

As reported, if you’re an EU/EEA, EFTA, or UK national; or have a valid residence permit for a Schengen Area country; or are an immediate family member of someone who is any of those things, you can now come to Iceland without having to go into immediate 2-week quarantine. Those outside of the Schengen Area will have to wait until at least July 1st. By that time, border screenings will cost 15,000 ISK per person; currently, they are free of charge, but do require downloading the Rakning C-19 tracing app for receiving test results and additional information.

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