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Iceland has become the first European nation to open its borders to all international travelers who have received the coronavirus vaccine.
Iceland made the change earlier this month, allowing those with proof of a vaccine certified for use by the European Medical Agency to bypass testing and quarantine requirements to enter the country.
The exemption also applies to anyone who can provide valid proof of prior infection.
“The world has been through a lot in the past 12 months, and we are all hoping for a slow and safe return to normalcy,” Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir said in a statement. “This also includes the resumption of the opportunity to travel, which is valuable to culture, trade and enterprise. The decision to apply border exemptions for vaccinated individuals to countries outside the EU/EEA area is a logical extension of our current policy.”
Travel companies immediately took notice and are planning to offer increased flights into Iceland.
That includes Delta Airlines, which announced new flights into Reykjavik starting in May.
Delta will resume daily flights to Iceland from New York’s Kennedy Airport starting May 1 and from Minneapolis-St. Paul starting May 27. It is also adding daily flights from Boston starting May 20.
“We know our customers are eager to safely get back out into the world, including exploring one of the globe’s most beautiful outdoor destinations,” Joe Esposito, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Network Planning, said in a statement. “As confidence in travel rises, we hope more countries continue reopening to vaccinated travelers.”
Delta’s flights to and from Iceland will be operated in conjunction with Air France-KLM and Virgin Atlantic.
Iceland had been virtually impossible for Americans to reach since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The nation had opened its borders to a small amount of European Union visitors but not those from the United States or Canada until now.
Europeans who had previously been infected or had proof of vaccination have been allowed in for the past several weeks.
“Our experience and data so far indicated very strongly that there is very little risk of infection stemming from individuals who have acquired immunity against the disease, either by vaccination or by prior infection,” said Thorolfur Gudnason, Iceland’s chief epidemiologist. “When people are protected against the same disease, with the same vaccines that are produced by the same companies, there is no medical reason to discriminate on the basis of where the jab is administered.”
Individuals hoping to travel to Iceland should check out the requirements to enter, including what is accepted as proof of vaccination and proof of previous infection.
Officials also remind potential visitors that exemptions from border screening and quarantining do not mean they are exempt from travel restrictions while in the country. Why travel to Iceland? Consider some of our favorite inspiration: